Florida civil rights activists are seeking justice in last month’s death of of 57-year-old Barbara Dawson, a Black woman who died after she was forced from a hospital, reports ABC News.
According to family lawyers, Dawson was admitted to the hospital the night of December 20 after complaining of a pain in her stomach. However, hours after her admittance, police were called because doctors said that Dawson had become unruly and refused to leave.
An unidentified officer arrived on the scene and forced Dawson to leave her room. As he tries to place her in the police car, Dawson can be heard on dash cam video repeatedly yelling that she couldn’t breathe and begging him not to confiscate her oxygen. The officer responds by telling her that she was fine, adding, “We surely don’t want to hurt you…but you are going to go to jail one way or the other, okay? So you can help us, or we can do it the hard way.”
Dawson eventually collapses; however, the officer and staff who have emerged from the hospital believe that she is pretending. After 20 minutes, in which there is a gap in the audio—a doctor comes outside and demands that Dawson be readmitted. She died the following day of a blood clot in her lungs.
“Police are supposed to protect and serve,” Dawson’s aunt, Martha Smith-Dixon, said at a news conference. “The hospital is supposed to save lives. When Barbara, our family member, went to the hospital, she was denied all of those rights.”
Both the Blountstown, Florida police department, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement have opened independent probes into Dawson’s death.
The family has not filed a lawsuit as of today.