Woman forced from Florida hospital dies after arrest; audio of scene released
By Phil Gast, Alina Machado, Ed Danko and Javier De Diego, CNN
Updated 12:52 PM ET, Fri January 8, 2016
(CNN)Barbara Dawson has no intention of leaving her hospital room.
Although the staff at the hospital in the Florida Panhandle town of Blountstown has discharged her, the patient refuses to leave, prompting a call to the police department on December 21.
"No, no, no, no," Dawson implores the responding officer when he begins talking with her. She asks him to leave the room and says she is feeling sick.
In audio captured by his vehicle's dashcam video, the officer calmly responds: "Here's what's going to happen. You can walk out of this hospital peacefully or I can take you out of the hospital." Dawson repeatedly cries out, "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God."
After she is removed and taken outside, Dawson collapses and lies on a parking lot for nearly 20 minutes before she is rushed back into the hospital. She is declared dead about 90 minutes after the officer arrived.
Now there are multiple investigations into her death and her survivors are considering legal action.
The audio, released by lawyers for Dawson's family, provides a gripping account of what happened.
During her raucous moments with the officer in her room, the 57-year-old woman says that she can hardly breathe, an assertion she repeats as the officer prepares to handcuff her.
Dawson asks to be left alone and shouts during the ensuing struggle, "Please don't let me die!"
The arrested woman is taken outside, only to collapse on the parking lot.
Dawson is told by the officer to get up, but she doesn't respond. She remains on the ground for about 18 minutes while the medical staff monitors her vital signs. The officer and staff aren't able to get the heavyset woman into the police vehicle and a call has been made for another vehicle.
A physician approaches the vehicle to check on Dawson.
"This is totally different than what she was when I was discharging her," the doctor says while waiting for a stretcher in order to readmit her.
Barbara Dawson, who was admitted to the hospital for abdominal pain, dies a short time later inside the hospital.
'There wasn't a dry eye'
A medical examiner report indicated she died from a blood clot in her lungs, Calhoun Liberty Hospital said in December. "A pulmonary embolism is often immediate and fatal," the hospital said. "It is difficult to detect and can be impossible to treat."
Attorneys for the family said they are considering a lawsuit against the hospital and Blountstown police.
CNN was unable to obtain comment from Blountstown police on Thursday.
The hospital said on Wednesday that it continues "to grieve the loss of a patient and member of the community." Its CEO said the facility welcomed outside investigations, including by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Asked about the video and audio, family attorney Benjamin Crump said, "There wasn't a dry eye when they listened to the last hour or so of her life."
Asked why the hospital discharged Dawson, Crump said, "We haven't got a reason at all. They haven't said anything, other than she was stabilized and she was discharged, so she had to leave." The police report said that medical staff had said her breathing was fine before she was removed.
The medical facility said it has been asked why Dawson was removed. "While we can't discuss her situation directly, we can say we generally only ask patients to be removed when there is a cause for concern about other patients' care or safety."
The officer's report was published on the website of CNN Tallahassee affiliate WTXL. He said if Dawson wanted more treatment after the discharge, she would have to go to another hospital. "While refusing, Dawson was acting in a manner which was affecting the peace and quiet of other persons in the hospital."
Officer believed Dawson was 'noncompliant'
Crump said Dawson had previously gone to Calhoun Liberty Hospital and once been told to leave when she tried to bring someone else in for treatment.
WTXL said incident reports showed police were called by hospital staff multiple times since 2006 in reference to alleged disturbances involving Dawson.
The dashcam video of December's incident shows very little, except for the effort to load the unresponsive Dawson into the police vehicle.
But it's clear from the audio that the officer believes she just doesn't want to leave. The officer, who later called Dawson "noncompliant," asked staff to keep checking her. And he speaks to Dawson, who doesn't answer.
"Falling down like this, laying down, that's not going to stop you from going to jail," the police officer said. "This is only making things worse on you."
At another point, a woman can be heard saying, "Ms. Dawson, come on now. There ain't nothing wrong with you."
Several times, someone can be heard giving updates on the woman's vital signs and saying she is OK.
Earlier, while Dawson was still in her room, the officer had asked Dawson's aunt to ask the patient to leave. The woman replied she could not force her to do so.
It's not clear whether it was the aunt who makes a plea while Dawson is on the ground.
"Barbara. Barbara. Barbara. Barbara. Barbara."
I am absolutely disgusted with this story.