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There was no ambulance available for federal officer attacked at Pioneer Courthouse

Multnomah County ambulance provider AMR has struggled with response times. The downtown Portland incident is the latest high-profile case to be impacted.

PORTLAND, Oregon — In the heart of downtown Portland on the morning of July 3, investigators say Jett Thomas came close to killing a U.S. Marshals Service deputy who was working as a Pioneer Federal Courthouse security officer.

Minutes later, after the bloodied officer escaped a chokehold and shot Thomas twice, emergency dispatchers tried to send an ambulance to the scene, but there wasn't an ambulance available.

The details, revealed in an affidavit filed by an FBI agent and confirmed by KGW through Bureau of Emergency Communications records, represent the latest connection between a high-profile emergency and Multnomah County's persistent problems with ambulance staffing and response.

RELATED: Multnomah County ambulances were unavailable to respond to 6,300 emergency calls since January

The federal officer was taken to a hospital by USMS agents while complaining of head and neck pain and bleeding from his mouth and ear, FBI special agent Joseph Youngblood wrote in the affidavit filed in federal court.

Youngblood said Thomas climbed the courthouse gate, choked and punched the officer in the head near the security area, put the officer in a chokehold outside the courthouse, and then hit the officer in the head with the officer's radio.

Credit: Federal affidavit
A screenshot from security video that investigators say shows Thomas hitting the officer with the officer's radio.

“Oh yeah they were tussling pretty aggressively, and the suspect was getting the best of the security guard because he was bigger," said Jason Roark, a man who told KGW he witnessed the assault and subsequent shooting.

According to the affidavit, a witness told investigators that the officer's face was turning "purplish-blue" before someone distracted Thomas and the officer shot him twice in the stomach.

Both Thomas and the officer survived their injuries, and Thomas is now charged with assaulting a federal employee.

KGW asked Aaron Schmautz, Portland Police Association president, if the incident and lack of available ambulances should raise concerns — both for law enforcement and for the public.

"At the end of the day, if someone is experiencing a medical crisis in this city when they call 911, it’s our moral responsibility to have an ambulance available," Schmautz said. "It's very concerning."

To verify the affidavit statement, KGW requested "Level Zero" data from BOEC — showing the times and locations of 911 calls in which Multnomah County ambulance provider AMR did not have an available ambulance crew to respond on July 3.

RELATED: A Portland man died waiting for an ambulance that didn't arrive for 32 minutes: 'Give people a fighting chance'

That data shows AMR was at Level Zero for an emergency call at 6:31 a.m. at 701 SW 6th Avenue, the block of the Pioneer Federal Courthouse and within 5 to 10 minutes of the reported assault.

AMR's issues with ambulance response are nothing new. The dataset shows AMR was unable to immediately send an ambulance to 28 other 911 calls on July 3.

In Multnomah County, more than 6,300 emergency calls received the Level Zero treatment between January and June of 2023.

"Our entire woven web of public safety needs help, we need more firefighters, we need more paramedics," Schmautz said. "We’re dealing with a public safety crisis in this city, it’s hitting every different piece of our infrastructure, we have to continue thinking about what those solutions look like."

The company said it’s working to increase paramedic staffing and solve issues by triaging ambulance response.

Multnomah County leaders have called AMR’s performance “incredibly disturbing” and frustrating – but have so far declined to fine the company or force changes based on AMR's missed standards.

RELATED: AMR says it has a plan to address delayed ambulance response times, staffing shortages

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