What would you do if you saw a stranger being robbed? It is a valid question and sadly one many people are faced with.
Do you rush to help and, therefore, place your own life at risk? Do you yell from a distance? Or just ignore the scene and be thankful it was not you?
When two police officers in Tampa Bay, Florida, were attacked by a man they were trying to apprehend, it was the swift action of a nearby transit worker who saved them. The officers were dispatched to the public transit center in response to a call about a suspect head-butting a security officer who asked him to leave.
Charles Kee, 26, was told he needed to leave the premises — as he was in violation of a year-long trespassing order — when he became upset and struck the security officer with his head. When the two officers arrived, they attempted to place Kee in handcuffs, but his behavior was quickly escalating.
Video cameras captured the scene as Kee began to resist arrest and become more violent. He punched one of the female officers in the face and grabbed the gun in her holster.
Cab driver Carl Baer watched the scene unfold from inside his cab said, “You could see through the window his hand on the gun.” He continued, “The clip ended up coming out of the gun laying on the ground, so he had his hand on it enough to release the clip.”
Pushing the other female officer to the ground, Kee, was overpowering the two and seemed like he was about to get away when another man entered the scuffle. Grabbing Kee from behind, he provided time for the officers to get off of the ground.
The man who rushed to the officers aid was Tim Martin, a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit supervisor. According to the Tampa Police Department, it was Martin who made all the difference in being able to apprehend Kee, who has been arrested several times and is well known by the department.
Steve Hegarty with Tampa PD said, “The first thing that really turned things in our favor was when he came in and put a bear hug on the guy and we really applaud him for doing that.” Unfortunately, not everyone was so quick to applaud Martin’s quick leap to action.
Despite his heroic action and clean record for the entire six years of his employment with HART, Martin received a letter in the mail stating his actions were under investigation with the possibility of disciplinary action to follow. “He’s concerned for his job he’s been put on investigation he doesn’t know where this is going to lead and he doesn’t know if his employer is going to try and terminate him at this point,” said John Sholtes, Martin’s union representative, “so he’s obviously quite concerned.”
Thankfully — for Martin’s sake — some clarification has been given as to why he is being investigated for running to the aid of those police officers. Sandra Morrison, HART spokeswoman, said it was more of a matter of communication loss than anything else.
“There was a stretch of time we did not hear from our transit supervisor,” said Morrison. “We don’t know if his life could’ve been in danger … so we needed to know what had happened around that stretch of time.”
“HART is very proud to have employees like Mr. Tim Martin working at our agency that go far beyond the call of duty of the expected day to day activities,” Morrison continued. “By reacting to a serious situation and using the training provided to him, Mr. Martin prevented a tragedy by helping these two police officers. We applaud him for his outstanding response and gallant efforts.”
At the conclusion of their investigation, HART found no violation of policies or procedures and no reason to discipline Martin. Tampa police are considering awarding him for his brave actions in helping the two officers avoid a potentially dangerous situation.