The family of the woman who broke down in KPD custody is planning to file a lawsuit

The family of the woman who broke down in KPD custody is planning to file a lawsuit

After the Knoxville Police Department released video footage of the officers’ behavior Lisa Edwards at the time of the arrest And ultimately slumped in the backseat of a police car, family members of Lisa Edwards say they’re still struggling to piece together exactly what happened — and why.

“We’re still in shock, we keep talking about it,” said August Boylan, who is married to Edwards’ son Timothy Boylan. “We’re trying to get as much coverage as possible that this happened to him, it could be someone’s family member.”

While Edwards’ family is trying to gather as much information as possible about what happened in her medical emergency and eventual death in early February, one thing is certain, Boylan said. They will likely file a lawsuit against the hospitals that treated Edwards and the police department

Community members shared hundreds of Facebook comments critical of officers’ behavior during Edwards’ arrest, and many gathered on Feb. 27 to hold a vigil in his honor.

Many wondered why the officers shouted at the 60-year-old for not cooperating in getting into the police van even when she was physically disabled and how one offered her a cigarette when she was begging for her inhaler as she struggled to breathe.

Lisa Edwards with one of her granddaughters

Why was Edwards in Knoxville after leaving Tennessee four years ago?

Edwards, according to her daughter-in-law, was a longtime Knoxville resident who decided in 2018 that she wanted to be closer to her son and grandchildren and moved to Rhode Island.

“He was very independent,” Boylan said. “He was funny, he was blunt, to the point. He wasn’t afraid to tell you how he felt.”

Edwards initially lived with family but suffered a stroke in August 2019.

“From then on, he couldn’t walk on his own,” Boylan said. “He lost the full use of his left side due to the effects of the stroke.”

Although Edwards moved into a nursing home due to his physical disability, he remained mentally sharp.

“He wanted to maintain as much autonomy as possible in his life,” Boylan said. “I’m a registered nurse, so I’ve had a lot of conversations with her about making an advanced directive or a living will, so that if she’s unable to communicate her needs, someone will be able to do that for her. But she didn’t. Didn’t want to give up control.”

The epidemic hit soon after Edwards moved into the nursing facility, which meant the family could not visit him for a long time, Boylan said. Eventually, Edwards decided to return to Knoxville, where he was staying with a friend.

“It wasn’t our business to send him out there with no plan,” Boylan said. “We respect his decision.”

‘It’s about human decency’

The family has questions about what happened to Blount Memorial Hospital, where Edwards was taken directly from the airport, and to Fort Sanders Medical Center, where he soon went and was released the next morning.

But from Boylan’s perspective, it should have been clear when Knoxville police officers arrived that Edwards was in serious trouble.

“I don’t know what kind of fogged glasses those officers were wearing,” he said. “It was very clear that he couldn’t use his left side. His speech became slurred as things progressed, which is one of the first signs you see with a stroke. It was very clear to me.”

Boylan said it didn’t matter what happened before they arrived.

“He was a man who was visibly in distress, he said he was in distress and they didn’t really do anything to help him,” he said. “They were mocking him, swearing at him. He was underweight because he couldn’t use his left side.

Lisa Edwards on her wedding day.

Lisa Edwards on her wedding day.

“It’s unbelievable. … Those security officers, they were a real piece of work. They said they saw him walking. That’s a complete lie, there’s no way around it. He hasn’t walked since August 2019.”

While some community members have expressed outrage and called for the officers to be fired or hospital staff to be disciplined, Boylan said the family prefers to focus on making sure there are effective and enforceable policies, adding, “It’s about human decency. It’s up to somebody. Shouldn’t be.”

How did Lisa Edwards end up in the back of a police cruiser?

Edwards He was arrested Feb. 5 outside Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, where he was treated. Hospital security staff called the police when Edwards refused to leave the property after being discharged.

Body cam footage shows the first KPD officer arriving just before 8 a.m., about an hour after Edwards was released from the hospital. Edwards told the officer he had a stroke and couldn’t walk, but he told him the hospital wanted him to leave and he was taking him to jail.

The officer told Edwards that if he did not leave, he would be charged with trespassing. A prison transport van was called and the officer and driver physically struggled for 30 minutes to get Edwards into the side compartment of the van, leaving him on the pavement with clothes hanging from his body.

Edwards repeatedly told officers and staff that he couldn’t breathe or stand, but they told him he had been medically discharged and was fine. The police decided to take him to jail in a regular police cruiser because it was easier than putting him in a van. Officers struggled to get him into the back seat and were never successful in getting him into a fully upright position.

At the start of the drive, Edwards was gasping and gasping for breath before he turned around. Within 10 minutes, he was out of sight and could not be heard on the cruiser’s cameras. The officer drove for another 3 minutes before stopping to assist a motorist. It took another minute to return to the car to find Edwards unconscious.

Where does the investigation stand?

Knoxville Police Sergeant Brandon Wardlow, Officer Adam Barnett, Officer Timothy DiStasio and Transportation Officer Danny Duggan, who were featured in KPD’s video compilation, are on paid leave pending an internal affairs investigation.

“I really can’t give an exact estimate or a timeline as to when the investigation will end,” spokesman Scott Erland said. “However, IA investigators are working through that investigation as thoroughly and expeditiously as possible.”

The Knox County District Attorney’s Office said Edwards died of a stroke And none of the officers who handled his arrest will face criminal charges. Charm Allen’s office cited a medical examiner’s report as saying: “At no time did the law enforcement interaction cause or contribute to Ms. Edwards’ death.”

Representatives from Fort Sanders Hospital did not respond to questions.

Liz Keller is a public safety reporter for Knox News. He can be reached by email at [email protected]Mr

This article originally appeared in the Knoxville News Sentinel: Family of broken woman in Knoxville police custody to file lawsuit

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