Responding firefighter confronted by officer at gunpoint - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Responding firefighter confronted by officer at gunpoint


BROOKLYN (WKOW) -- Firefighters in the village of Brooklyn are reviewing emergency response protocols, after a volunteer firefighter responding to a call was pursued by an Oregon police officer, and ultimately confronted at gunpoint.

Firefighter Dan Dean has filed a $50,000 claim with the village of Oregon over the incident, after Oregon police officials determined the officer acted appropriately.

In June, Dean responded to a fire call in his personal car, using emergency lights and a siren his Dodge Charger was equipped with.

Oregon police officer Ted Gilbertson initiated a pursuit of Dean, unaware he was a firefighter responding to a call.

Squad car video of the night time chase on County Highway MM includes Gilbertson noting speeds as fast as ninety miles per hour, something Dean disputes. The video also shows Dean halting his car at a stop sign, before ultimately arriving at the Brooklyn fire station. Dean tells 27 News he thought Gilbertson's police cruiser was also responding to the fire scene.

Gilbertson's squad car also arrives at the fire station. The squad car video shows Gilbertson was concerned Dean's car matched the description of a suspected, police imposter in the area. The video also confirms Gilbertson verified Dean's car's license plate accurately displayed emergency medical service (EMS) status.

The squad car video shows Dean approaching the car with his gun drawn, and briefly training the gun at Dean, until Dean's calm explanation of who he was prompted Gilbertson to holster the weapon.

Dean says the officer's common sense should have kicked in, with other volunteer firefighters arriving in their cars at the same time to respond to the fire. Dean also claims his verified license plates, coupled with differences between his car's features and that of the suspected police imposter, should have led to restraint from the officer.

Dean says Oregon police supervisors determined Gilbertson acted appropriately in treating the situation as a high risk traffic stop.

Brooklyn fire chief Phil Mortensen contests that determination, saying the officer's use of the gun was uncalled for and dangerous.

Oregon police officials provided 27 News with the squad car videotape, but police and village officials have yet to respond to several requests from 27 News for comment.

Dean received a citation for failure to yield. Dean contests a determination from Oregon police officials that Dean did not exercise due care in responding to the potential emergency.

Mortensen says his volunteers are directed to go no more than ten miles per hour over speed limits, and both Mortensen and Dean say it's possible Dean's speed during the response may have been excessive.

The squad car video shows Dean obeyed the officer's orders to remain in the car after initially stepping out.

Dean tells 27 News he believes Gilbertson displayed "tunnel vision," and worries whether Gilbertson would have opened fire if Dean had ignored the police commands and hurried to get to his post on the fire engine.

Dean maintains his legal claim was his only recourse after the internal investigation absolved Gilbertson, and insists his effort is not about money, but accountability.


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