Joseph Zajac allegedly assaulted Chicago police officer, 2 paramedics in River North

Two paramedics and a Chicago police officer were injured when prosecutors say the man they were called to help assaulted them Tuesday night in the city's River North neighborhood.
December 4, 2013 5:29:48 PM PST
Two paramedics and a Chicago police officer were injured when prosecutors say the man they were called to help assaulted them Tuesday night in the city's River North neighborhood.

All three first responders were sent to the hospital. The suspect was sent to court. None of the injuries were life threatening. The paramedics and police officer were released Tuesday night. The suspect, who was treated for injuries as well, was in court Wednesday.

Also in court were fellow paramedics and firefighters frustrated by violence first responders sometimes face.

A call for injured man came from this block Tuesday evening on North LaSalle. Two Chicago paramedics responded. They were evaluating him and they say something happened.

"It was an average run and nothing out of the ordinary. It's almost like flipped a switch and the gentleman became combative and that was the result three people hospitalized," said Asst. Deputy Chief Jeff Larson, Chicago Fire Department.

The 28-year-old delivery driver from Indiana appeared in court Wednesday. Joseph Zajac is charged with aggravated battery of the paramedics and a Chicago police officer.

Prosecutor said Zajac hit a 63-year-old paramedic and a Chicago police officer who responded to help the paramedics. The second paramedic was injured. Prosecutors say she ended up with a concussion.

"They are sore, they are beaten up. And they're exhausted at this point. All they want to do is get some rest and be with their family," said Tom Ryan, president, Chicago Firefighters Union.

The president of the union representing the paramedics says he's gone to court five times in just two weeks for suspects charged with assaulting paramedics on the job.

"This is insanity, this should never happen, much less with the frequency that it is happening and I hope the citizens of this city are as outraged as we are," said Ryan.

"When you coming up to handle someone and you think it's a medical emergency and all of a sudden it flips and you're having some violent combative patient, you know, it's disheartening," said Larson.

An I-Team investigation found more than half of all emergency medical service workers have reported assaults on the job.

In the last two years in Cook County, more than sixty people have been charged for assaulting a paramedic.

In this case, the judge issued a $150,000 for Joseph Zajac. He's due back in court December 10.


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