Retired Navy SEAL Chief Gallagher Backs Targeted Colorado Paramedic’s Fight for Justice

The retired Navy SEAL chief petty officer pardoned by President Donald J. Trump and founder of The Pipe Hitter Foundation told The Star News Network he and the foundation support former Summit County, Colorado, paramedic Keith Hogan.

Keith Hogan didn’t deserve to lose his career,” said retired Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, acquitted at court-martial of a murder charge but later still targeted by Navy leaders until his pardon from President Trump.

In the summer of 2020, Hogan was accused of using excessive force on a belligerent subject in the back of an ambulance, and he said he expects a trial date in June for third-degree misdemeanor assault charges.

“If it hadn’t been for The Pipe Hitter Foundation jumping in, I wouldn’t have been able to go to trial anyway,” the paramedic said.

The state of Colorado was hoping he would accept the misdemeanor in a plea deal, which would allow him to go on with his life but would also give them the justification to revoke his license, he said.

Gallagher said Hogan was a hero persecuted for doing his duty.

“He was targeted and falsely accused, and there are many brave heroes stuck in the same jam,” the combat veteran said.

“The Pipe Hitter Foundation supports veterans and first-responders who were wrongfully persecuted and need community support,” he said. “These heroes have risked their lives for others — now they need and deserve our help.”

Hogan: What happened that night

Hogan told The Star News Network that he was railroaded out of his job and career over an incident where he conducted himself appropriately.

Yet, his ambulance partner filed a report that, in her opinion, Hogan used excessive force on a police suspect.

The 19-year veteran of emergency medical services said it was a strange call from Silverthorne, Colorado, police officers. “Nobody has ever explained to me why they called us.”

When the call came in, Hogan and his team responded with an engine company and his ambulance.

“We got called out to respond to the Silverthorne Police Department for a law-requested medical, which basically means you’ve got law enforcement that’s dealing with a law enforcement call, if you will, and they request medical to respond to their location,” he said.

“There was no other information en route, even our dispatch terminal, what we could see on the dispatch notes on the terminal, and the ambulance didn’t really say anything specific, so once we got there, we realized we were dealing with a combative individual,” he said.

Hogan said that when he and his partner arrived in the ambulance, they found a suspect in police custody.

“He was very verbally combative, and he wasn’t being resistant when we got there, but he quickly would escalate to being physically combative and whatnot,” he said. “He was in handcuffs when we got there.”

The paramedic said he tried to find out from the police what they wanted him and his partner to do.

“We were advised that the subject had escalated two separate times, once when they took him into custody at a different location and a second time while they were there at the police department, and they decided that he needed to be transported to the hospital,” he said.

“My understanding was they were looking for medical clearance because he refused chemical testing for DUI,” he said.

The subject refused to cooperate with any of the steps the officers tried to take to determine if he was drunk, so they called the ambulance service to take him to the hospital – not them – at least, this is the narrative Hogan said he was able to construct.

At one point, the subject was kicking the officers, he said.

“That was never, ever made clear, and in all of the stuff that I’ve seen or heard, nobody’s actually said why they called us,” he said.

“I feel like it’s just been blanketed where they said: ‘We called for medical because he was combative,’” he said. “It certainly wasn’t safe to travel in the back of a police car if he was going to keep escalating, so it definitely made sense to transport him to the hospital, in an ambulance, on a cot where he can be put in four-point, soft restraints and get him there safely.”

He said the four-point restraint inside the ambulance is the standard protocol for any patient.

It was evident to Hogan and his partner that the subject was not going to calm down, certainly not after a police officer put a so-called spit hood on the subject.

A spit hood is a mesh sack designed to go over someone’s head, allowing police officers to see the person’s face through the mesh, and it will enable the person to breathe through the mesh, but the mesh protects officers from the subject biting them or spitting on them.

Hogan said he was not sure if the spit hood was required.

“There were several things that took place on scene that escalated the patient,” he said. “I was able to verbally deescalate him most of the time. I mean, he would at least focus on what was going on or redirect his obscenities and vulgar language towards me as soon as I would engage him.”

The paramedic said he thought it was helping to just talk to the subject.

“It would stop him from being overtly aggressive, I guess, for a little while, then someone would place the spit hood on him while I was trying to do something else,” he said.

“That’s where the patient was no longer able to be deescalated,” he said.

At that point, Hogan and his partner just needed to get the subject into the ambulance, and his partner prepared to give him a shot to calm him down, he said.

The incident in the back of the ambulance

The paramedic said throughout the call, as he interacted with the officers and the subject in the parking lot, his partner sat in the ambulance, but as Hogan brought him into the back of the ambulance, his partner prepared to administer the shot.

“The patient started thrashing around in a manner that he was either going to hurt himself or hurt my partner, so I had to restrain him a little bit more, and that’s kind of where all of this stems from,” he said.

“They thought that I was too aggressive with him,” he said.

“Well, my partner was initially the one that believed that I was too aggressive with the patient, and then it kind of turned into a handful of different things, if you will,” Hogan said.

“Once we loaded him into the ambulance, doors closed trying to keep as few people interacting with him as possible – it’s the best way to approach a combative individual,” he said.

“We weren’t in the ambulance very long. Most of this stuff took place in the parking lot of the police department,” he said.

Hogan said the subject was never hurt, and he did not strike him in any way; instead, as he was upright on the cot in the back of the ambulance, he pressed down on the subject, so his partner could administer the tranquilizer shot.

The subject knew the shot was for him, the native of Teaneck, New Jersey, said.

“My partner grabbed his arm and said: ‘You’re going to feel a sharp poke. I’m going to give you medication to calm you down.’ He started losing it and thrashing his head around. He was in a perfect position to get headbutted or for him to catch an exposed needle in the eye or both,” he said.

Hogan took action as he saw things going sideways, he said.

“Because of the position, he was sitting bolt upright, so because of the position, I put the head of the bed down so he couldn’t engage his core, and it was that, that my partner said she didn’t approve of how I restrained him,” he said.

Hogan’s partner files a negative report on him

Almost immediately, Hogan’s partner tells the engine company captain and others that Hogan violated Colorado’s new law restricting the use of force by law enforcement.

“The only people that really saw what happened in the back of the ambulance were me, my partner, and the patient initially, because my partner was saying I need to let go and stop,” he said.

“Despite the fact that I said: ‘You almost got hit in the face. Give him the medication, so I can let him go,” he said. “It was my partner and I initially, which was like the restraint process lasted all of a couple of seconds, so she was integral, and I think making the situation worse by her depiction of what happened.”

Hogan said he thought he was supporting his partner, who in the scuffle ended up dropping the needle and forgoing the shot.

“I did have to hold his head, but it was in a manner that didn’t obstruct his airway or cause any injury. I didn’t strike him, nothing like that. It was literally to keep his upper body still because even though his wrists and ankles had soft Velcro restraints on him, he could still thrash around his upper body,” he said.

When the incident was over, and the team returned from the hospital, Hogan said his partner’s complaint against him was already in play.

He said that night; he was told he needed to put his story in writing. “They said I needed to do an incident report; I said: ‘OK, cool.’ I did an incident report.”

The next morning, he was put on administrative leave, he said.

Soon after, someone from human resources told him that his case was forwarded to the district attorney and that he needed a lawyer, he said. Even then, things were moving so quickly that he did not grasp the gravity of his situation. “Why do I need a lawyer? What is the issue here?”

Quickly, the Summit County authorities moved to fire Hogan, and he was able to convince them to let him resign, he said. As it stands now, his license is simply listed as expired, but the county is ready to formally revoke his license pending the outcome of his trial for misdemeanor third-degree assault.

Hogan struggles to keep going

The paramedic said his career is hanging in the balance.

When he was growing up, he knew he wanted to have a job helping people, and his favorite program was “Code Red,” he said.

“I never had issues running towards danger,” Hogan said. “I wanted to do the mix of things and be the person that stood out as a stark contrast to everyone else around me.”

When a pre-existing condition meant he could not be an Army combat medic, or 68 Whiskey, he enrolled in an emergency medical technician program. After six years as an EMT, he was accepted to a paramedic academy.

Now, Hogan said he works at Home Depot, and his wife is working two or three jobs just to keep the family afloat. “Almost to the point of driving herself into the ground.”

At one point, he thought he could work outside Colorado, and he was offered a critical care paramedic position in Nebraska — until Nebraska asked Colorado if he had a license.

“They couldn’t just leave it at it was suspended and expired,” he said. “They had to add that point that it’s currently in the process of review for revocation.”

The Nebraska offer was withdrawn, he said.

Hogan said he has no illusions about the deck stacked against him, but he will not take a plea deal when he believes he did his duty.

“I feel like they needed to make an example of somebody to show: ‘We don’t favor people in uniform. We hold them to higher standards.’”

– – –

Neil W. McCabe is the national political editor of The Star News Network based in Washington. He is an Army Reserve public affairs NCO and an Iraq War veteran. Send him news tips: [email protected]. Follow him on TruthSocial & GETTR: @ReporterMcCabe
Photo “Eddie Gallagher” by U.S. Military. Photo “Keith Hogan” by Pipe Hitter Foundation. Background Photo “Ambulance” by ArtisticOperations.



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