A disabled woman who refused to leave hospital grounds after being discharged, telling Knoxville police she was having a stroke and dying as they tried to take her into custody, was “treated like trash” before she ultimately died on 6 February, her family claims.
Lisa Edwards, 60 – who used a wheelchair and had previously suffered a stroke – had been discharged from Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center on 5 February but refused to leave, prompting security to call the Knoxville Police Department.
Responding officers attempted to take Ms Edwards, still wearing hospital scrubs, into custody, repeatedly referring to her as “dead weight” as she slurred her words and had trouble getting into the transport vehicle, body camera footage shows.
The Knoxville Police Department publicly released the footage this week. Officers eventually got Ms Edwards into a cruiser, and she was being taken to Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility to be booked on trespassing charges when she became fully unresponsive. She was taken back to the Fort Sanders medical facility, where she later died.
The video shows police officers claiming that Ms Edwards was faking illness as she insisted she could not breathe.
Ms Edwards’ son, Tim Boylan, has expressed his horror at the events leading up to is mother’s death.
“I can’t even wrap my head around it,” he told WVLT. “I just don’t see how somebody could treat someone like that. They treated her like she was trash.”
His wife, August, urged others to “think about if that was their loved one and this is what was happening.”
“It’s like the worst thing that I’ve ever seen in my life.”
The officers, who insisted to Ms Edwards that she had been medically cleared, will not face charges after it was determined that their actions did not contribute to her death.
“An autopsy conducted by medical examiners with the Regional Forensic Center concluded that Lisa Edwards died of natural causes, namely ‘ischemic stroke due to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease’ and ‘that at no time did law enforcement interaction cause or contribute to Ms. Edwards’ death,’” Knox County District Attorney spokesman Sean McDermott said in a 21 February release, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Ms Edwards’ relatives were consulting with a lawyer, according to WVLT.
August Boylan, a registered nurse, said she was appalled after watching how her mother-in-law had been treated.
“You don’t have to be a medical professional to know what the signs of a stroke are,” she told WATE. “And you can see that in her, you know, start to finish. Her speech ... completely changes from start to finish. And ... she’s struggling to breathe. That is not somebody working themself (sic) up like they said in there. That is not somebody faking it.
“She said it herself, that she was dying – that she was having a stroke.”