BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County Fire Rescue firefighter paramedic turned himself in one week after allegedly punching an elderly patient in the face as he was being placed onto a gurney.

The incident happened with three Bartow police officers present, one of which says she witnessed the punch and told the paramedic to stop.

“That is not how we act here at Polk County Fire Rescue. Certainly there are many other things that should be done. Obviously this was not something we ever teach, we ever practice, we ever condone,” said Polk County Fire Rescue Chief Robert Weech.

According to police, Polk County Fire Rescue responded to “The Bartow Center,” a senior living facility, on Tuesday, May 24, along with Bartow Fire Department. Bartow Police were called to assist with a “combative patient,” according to the affidavit.

Matthew Mullins, the accused Polk County Fire Rescue paramedic, was attempting to get the 67-year-old man with Parkinson’s Disease into the gurney. After some initial struggles, the elderly patient was restrained.

“The defendant then reached back, balling his fist and struck the victim about [sic] the forehead area of his face as he was already being restrained,” the affidavit reads.

Mullins then reportedly said, “I’m from Combee, we don’t play this (expletive.) Are you done being a (expletive) idiot?”

Matthew Mullins before facing a judge Wednesday

An officer saw the incident and said “If you hit him again, I am going to (expletive) arrest you,” according to the affidavit.

“Oh, it’s a full punch, that was a full punch. It was fully unnecessary, according to the officers and their statements to detectives afterwards,” Bartow Police Chief Bryan Dorman said.

Mullins is now suspended with pay through June 6. He will then be placed on suspension without pay, pending an internal review.

In his three years at Polk County Fire Rescue, Mullins was “verbally coached” following one incident, according to Chief Weech. Mullins was given a written reprimand for another incident for “inappropriate interaction with hospital staff and conduct unbecoming.”

“We will take all necessary trips from a discipline standpoint for paramedic Mullins and anyone else involved up to and including termination as the legal process unfolds,” Chief Weech said about the most recent incident.

Chief Weech said he was not officially notified about Mullins’ alleged behavior until Thursday, May 26, though a Battalion Chief was previously notified. An arrest warrant was filed Friday.

Police officers and Polk County Fire Rescue officials could not locate Mullins throughout the holiday weekend until he turned himself in Tuesday.

“Imagine someone robbing a bank and then we wait four days. I wonder how many other banks would have been robbed,” said Pastor Clayton Cowart, a local civil rights advocate.

Cowart filed a complaint against the three officers who were on scene, a police sergeant and Chief Dorman, taking issue with the fact Mullins was not arrested at the time of the incident.

“My complaint is if they knew that this had taken place and they are really qualified officers, they should really know what a felony is. If you know what a felony is, you’re supposed to make an arrest. They didn’t make an arrest,” said Cowart.

Chief Dorman says the officers’ focus in the immediate aftermath was on getting the victim medical attention, who was not injured from the alleged battery. Detectives then had to conduct interviews and pull records, according to the chief.

“It’s important that we do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons and at this particular situation, we needed to have all of the right facts,” said Chief Dorman.

A judge set bond at $1,000 for a charge of abuse of the elderly without great bodily harm. Per a condition of release, Mullins is not allowed to have contact with “patients and/or people with vulnerable conditions.”

Mullins is studying nursing, according to his defense attorney, who declined to comment for this story.