A New York City emergency medical technician says she was attacked by a Brooklyn assistant district attorney in the back of an ambulance as he was being transported to the hospital early Saturday.
Teresa Soler still had bruises on her cheek and under her eyes Tuesday, and was wearing a neck brace to treat spasms after the alleged assault.
She and her partner were responding to a call of an intoxicated man early Saturday morning on the Brooklyn Bridge near Spruce Street when they found 30-year-old Michael Jaccarino, she told NBC 4 New York.
Soler, who has been an EMT for 20 years, said Jaccarino was "very calm" at first and that he showed his ADA badge when he was asked for identification.
Solder said she sat in the back of the ambulance as they transported Jaccarino to Beth Israel Hospital. At some point, he unbuckled himself from the stretcher and began attacking Soler.
"He put his forearm on my neck and he applied a lot of pressure. He was leaning on my neck," Soler told NBC 4 New York, her voice breaking. "I tried to scream, and I couldn't scream. When I tried to swallow, I couldn't swallow. I couldn't breathe."
Soler said Jaccarino had her pinned to the stretcher and she could not get the attention of her partner, who was driving in the front.
"All I see is that little window that separates my partner from me, and I thought, 'Wow, am I going to go out like this?'" said Soler. "He had his forearm on my neck so hard I couldn't breathe, and I thought that was it."
According to a complaint from the Manhattan District Attorney's office, Jaccarino also punched her in the face. He also closed his hands around her neck.
"I never felt fear for my life until that moment -- raw, unadulterated fear. Total fear," said Soler.
Finally, Soler's partner figured out something was wrong and stopped the ambulance. The partner ran out to open the door and help her.
Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the Brooklyn District Attorney, said Jaccarino was hired in 2008 and has been suspended without pay from his job pending the outcome of the investigation.
Schmetterer said it would be inappropriate for Hynes to comment because the case was being tried in Manhattan.
Jaccarino's lawyer declined to comment.
In October, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes held a news conference pushing for stricter punishment for those who assault EMS workers. It's a measure the EMS union supports.
"There should be a public education campaign informing the public of what we do, how important and how dangerous our job can be," said Israel Miranda, the EMS union president.
Soler is uncertain whether she can return to an ambulance anytime soon. But she hopes that by publicizing her story, she can prevent future attacks.