Two paramedics accused of murder over botched patient ride to hospital

Two Illinois paramedics have been charged with murder after one of their patients passed away from positional asphyxiation after he was transported to a hospital last month.

The accused emergency workers, 44-year-old Peggy Finley and Peter Cadigan, 50, travelled to a home in the state capital of Springfield on 18 December after police asked for medical aid when a person “was suffering hallucinations due to alcohol withdrawal,” the Springfield Police Department said in a press release.

Police released body camera footage which shows Ms Finley going into a bedroom in the back of the home while an officer tells her about the patient, Earl Moore Jr, CNN reported.

Ms Finley can then be heard shouting at Mr Moore, 35, to stand up and walk to the ambulance.

“You’re gonna have to walk ‘cause we ain’t carrying you!” she says in the footage. “I am seriously not in the mood for this dumb s***.”

Two police officers can then be seen helping the patient get outside and onto the ambulance gurney. Mr Cadigan then puts Mr Moore in position and the two paramedics then strap him in in a prone position.

“The Springfield Police Department was later notified the patient had passed after arriving at the hospital,” the department said.

Peggy Finley and Peter Cadigan have been charged with murder after one of their patients died of positional asphyxiation (Sangamon County Sheriff Department)
Peggy Finley and Peter Cadigan have been charged with murder after one of their patients died of positional asphyxiation (Sangamon County Sheriff Department)

An autopsy report states that Mr Moore died because of “compressional and positional asphyxia due to prone facedown restraint on a paramedic transportation cot/stretcher by tightened straps across back and lower body in the setting of lethargy and underlying chronic alcoholism”.

The paramedics were arrested on 9 January and have been charged with murder in the first degree, according to court documents.

Their bond has been set at $1m each and they’re being held at the Sangamon County Detention Facility. They’re set to appear in court next on 19 January.

Lawyer Peter Wise represented the paramedics during a bond hearing on Tuesday. He told The Washington Post that Ms Finley and Mr Cadigan have no criminal history and aren’t a danger to others.

“These are two good people that find themselves in a very odd criminal case,” Mr Wise told the paper.

The Sangamon County prosecutor announced the murder charges after the coroner reported the cause of death as a homicide.

State’s Attorney Dan Wright said on Tuesday that the paramedics were aware that strapping Mr Moore in a prone position would “create a substantial probability of great bodily harm or death”.

When police arrived at Mr Moore’s home, a woman opened the door and explained that he was a severe alcoholic who hadn’t had a drink in four days. She added that he was hallucinating but wasn’t violent.

The officers requested medical help after trying to speak to Mr Moore, who was lying in a bed, for around 30 seconds. Mr Moore rolled off the bed before the arrival of the paramedics, according to The Post.

“This is Earl,” one of the officers told Ms Finley. “Haven’t been able to get much out of him.”

“Earl, sit up. Sit up!” she yelled after he didn’t respond to her queries.

The president of the NAACP chapter in Springfield told The Illinois Times that “it was almost worse,” than the death of George Floyd, who was murdered by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota in May 2020, setting off nationwide racial justice protests.

“If this guy was already … having difficulties breathing, and then you put him on a stretcher facedown, I mean, it was hostile to see the video and how they treated him,” Ms Haley told the paper. “They literally threw his hands behind and just strapped him down. He couldn’t move if he wanted to.”

The Independent has reached out to Mr Wise for comment.