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A Kentucky anesthesiologist is accused of strangling a teenage girl for not social distancing.
Dr. John Rademaker, 57, allegedly attacked a cluster of teens last week who had gathered in a Louisville amphitheater to watch the sunset amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“[Rademaker] approached [the] victim and others to scold them about social distancing,” a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com stated. “[Rademaker] went to the ground and placed his hands on [the] victim[‘s] neck and began to strangle her.”
Rademaker was charged with one count of first-degree strangulation and three counts of physical harassment, according to police.
The confrontation between the Kentucky doctor and the rebellious teens took place shortly before 8:30 p.m. on April 6 at an amphitheater in the upscale Louisville neighborhood Norton Commons. A video recording of the incident, which was filmed by bystanders, was obtained and reviewed by Oxygen.com.
The video, a portion of which was posted online, begins with a man, identified as Rademaker swearing at — and later shoving — the young women.
“Do not touch me!” one teen screamed at him.
Rademaker, clad in a red shirt and jeans, then pounced on another teen lying on the ground, and appears to wring the girl’s neck. Her friends and other bystanders quickly wrestled him off the teenager.
“We do not advise individuals concerned about social distancing to take matters into their own hands and confront people about it, especially in any physical way,” Lamont Washington, a spokesperson for the Louisville Metro Police Department, said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com.
The teenager, who Oxygen.com hasn’t identified for privacy reasons, was treated at the scene by first responders for a “red mark” on her neck, investigators said.
“I was absolutely horrified to watch my friend be strangled by a complete stranger,” Kelsey Blocker, who filmed the encounter, told Oxygen.com. “Hearing her gasp for air put everyone there into panic.”
The unnerving confrontation has since traumatized the 18-year-old.
“The video captures the incident well, but it can’t capture all the trauma that follows from being in a situation like this,” Blocker said.
The video, which was shared by civil rights activist Shaun King, quickly spread on social media.
“[Rademaker] assaulted this young Black girl,” King posted Twitter on Monday.
“He was angry at the girls because they weren’t social distancing,” he also wrote in a separate post. “I’m dead serious. “Since he wants to do this, I need his name. I need him to be famous for this.”
King’s version of the video was shared 20,000 times on Facebook and also racked up nearly half a million views on Twitter.
Louisville police wouldn’t say if the attack was racially motivated.
Rademaker, a veteran anesthesiologist, has since resigned from his post, officials said. He was employed by private healthcare provider One Anesthesia PLLC for 20 years.
“Dr. John Rademaker has voluntarily resigned all of his hospital privileges,” Lauren Cox, spokesperson for the provider, said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com. “[We] will continue to monitor the situation as new information develops and sends well wishes to all parties involved.”
Hospital officials also confirmed the 57-year-old’s departure.
“Our association with him is no more,” Kit Fullenlove, public relations manager for Baptist Health, told Oxygen.com. “He’s not seeing any patients.”
In Brooklyn last month, an enraged man allegedly tried to mow down a 31-year-old man with his car outside a synagogue regarding a “verbal dispute,” reportedly over social distancing, New York Police Department (NYPD) told Oxygen.com in a statement.
“You’re killing everybody with this virus,” the accused man said, the New York Post reported.
On March 28, an 86-year-old woman was pushed, hit her head, and later died in a Brooklyn hospital after she allegedly invaded another patient’s personal space, the NYPD also said. The elderly woman, who supposedly suffered from dementia, was allegedly shoved by patient Cassandra Lundy after trying to grab a hold of the woman’s IV pole, CNN reported. Lundy, 32, was arrested and charged with manslaughter.
“Social distancing and quarantining measures, imposed by governments and enforced by police can be a perfect storm creating situations that can become violent, even deadly,” Brian Higgins, a global security and emergency response expert, told Oxygen.com.
Higgins, a former New Jersey police chief, said the ongoing lockdown, social distancing measures, and a torrent of misinformation have contributed to significant “angst” amongst the general population.
“Everybody seems to be on edge,” he said. “When somebody violates your personal space, they violate these recommendations, you’re thinking it’s almost like, ‘You could kill me if you give me this thing' — plus it’s illegal. It’s causing these unusual reactions from people.”
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) recommend maintaining a six-foot distance from other people during the pandemic.
Rademaker is scheduled to appear at a Jefferson County courthouse on May 8 at 9 a.m., according to court records. It’s unclear if he’s retained legal counsel.
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