Monday evening, January 18, 2020, at 5:45 p.m. four members of the Anne Arundel County Police Department responded to an elderly man in distress at the Walmart Parking lot at 8107 Ritchie Highway in Pasadena. What one department spokesperson said was quick-thinking "outside-the-box" by the officers, helped prevent an unfortunate medical emergency into potentially turning into something much worse.
“There were a lot of onlookers seeing what was happening,” Officer Valeria Morales, from the department’s media relations office, said regarding the incident. “The public had to be concerned about what was happening.”
Two patrol officers from the department’s Eastern District were first on the scene, and located the man, sitting in the driver’s side of his vehicle, apparently disoriented and upset. The officers tapped on the windshield, waved their arms and called to the man, but didn’t get a response, according to a release Tuesday.
Suddenly the elderly man accelerated his vehicle away from the officers, driving erratically through the parking lot, before speeding toward Walmart’s main entrance.
A lieutenant and sergeant from the department had also arrived on scene. The four used teamwork to address the emergency, Morales said.
“It takes a lot of communication in finding the best resolution,” she said. “They had to work very quickly and work together. They were all hands-on.”
Two of the police vehicles boxed in the distressed elderly driver, gently pressing their vehicle’s bumpers against the front and rear of the mans vehicle, blocking it from further movement. But the elderly man depressed his foot on both the gas and the brake at the same time, causing his vehicle to rev and smoke, the release stated.
A vehicle-lockout kit was used to open the man’s vehicle, calm him and extract him.
He was found to be having a medical emergency, and transported to a nearby hospital. The elderly man’s name and condition were not provided by Morales, who cited HIPAA privacy law.
No charges were brought in the incident.
“We believe they did an excellent job,” Morales said, regarding the responding officers. “It’s not an easy situation. Using their vehicles was a good tool to use. It kept that person from having a vehicle collision, injuring surrounding pedestrians, (or) injuring themselves. Sometimes you have to think outside-the-box.”
Morales said officers are required to accurately assess any situation before determining an effective response.
“You have to look at all the factors,” she said. “You read body language. Can you get the person’s attention? Are they able to speak to you? Just based on that interaction with the elderly person in the vehicle, they realized something more was going on.”
Morales said, responding to calls often requires officers to seek to either slow situations down or thinking on your feet and being very quick.
She indicated officers keep public safety and law enforcement at the top of their list of priorities. They were successful last night in a Pasadena department store parking lot.
“That’s the most important thing--making sure they are safe,” Morales said. “(And) providing immediate medical attention if that is necessary.”