A woman who collapsed and later died after being forcibly removed from a Florida hospital lay in the parking lot beside a police officer’s car for nearly 18 minutes before a doctor readmitted her, according to police dash-cam audio and video released Wednesday by lawyers for her family who charge the hospital and police were negligent in her death.
Attorneys for the family of Barbara Dawson renewed their charges of negligence against the hospital and Blountstown Police as multiple state agencies continue their investigation into Dawson’s Dec. 21 death.
The Tallahassee law firm Parks & Crump received the video on Monday night and reviewed it. The family saw it for the first time following a press conference where media received the video.
“We think what they did was put criminality over health care. We think what they did here was compromise public safety by failing to give her the medical attention that she needed,” said state Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, who is a co-counsel for Dawson’s family.
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On the roughly 2 ½-hour recording, an officer drives up to the hospital, enters Dawson’s hospital room and tries to persuade her to leave. He says she must either go with him or go to jail, but Dawson replies that she can’t breathe and she’s in a panic. The officer informs Dawson that she can either receive health care elsewhere or will be arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing.
The oxygen hose is disconnected and Dawson is led to the police car. The officer walks the 270-pound woman out, holding her by the arm, nudging her along.
Dawson fell to the ground 1 to 2 feet from the patrol car while the officer reached for his keys. Dawson cut her feet and knees.
The Blountstown police officer who arrested Dawson is heard saying that he thought Dawson “was being non-complaint by not trying to get in my car and faking it.”
For 18 minutes she lay propped against the police cruiser as the officer and nurses made multiple attempts to get her into the car. The nurses also checked her pulse. Finally a doctor came out, said her condition appeared to have changed and readmitted her.
The medical examiner’s office found that Dawson died from a blood clot due to being excessively overweight.
Calhoun Liberty Hospital CEO Ruth Attaway said they have also received a copy of the video and are still reviewing it.
There is no hospital video of the incident because a computer server was down for upgrades. Hospital spokeswoman Sandi Poreda said last week that staff determined on Dec. 22 that the server had not stored video since Nov. 28. The server has been fixed and footage is being recorded. An adjacent church and apartment complex also had no video.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesman Steve Arthur and Agency for Health Care Administration communications director Mallory Deason said their investigations are ongoing.