Barbara Dawson. This name should be of the same national importance as Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner… and yet, her story is still not getting the full press it deserves.
Dawson, 57, arrived at a hospital in Blountstown, FL on December 21 complaining of chest pains. The hospital discharged her, but Dawson continued to feel pain and refused to leave. Instead of considering the fact that a) this was a hospital and b) Dawson was complaining of pain that continued even when the medical staff didn’t feel like treating her anymore, a nurse called the police to have her escorted off the premises.
Dawson, still in pain and complaining over and over again that she “can’t breathe,” was handcuffed by Officer John Tadlock and forced out of her room.
Now there is two-and-a-half hours of dash-cam footage to prove what happened, and it doesn’t look good.
“You’re standing up here and you’re talking and you’re breathing,” Tadlock says at one point on the video, completely ignoring both common decency and generally acknowledged facts about how chest pain works
When Dawson collapses in the parking lot because she can’t f*cking breathe, the officer and several nurses try to help her up — in order to put her in the police cruiser. Not to help her, but continue to arrest a woman who is straight-up being refused medical service. This goes on for 18 minutes before a doctor finally comes over and demands Dawson get put on a stretcher.
She died an hour later in the emergency room from a blood clot in her lung.
Tadlock wrote in his police report that he assumed she was just being difficult and “intentionally noncompliant.” Blountstown Police Chief Mark Mallory defended Tadlock by saying Tadlock isn’t a medical professional and did what he was supposed to do.
Why did the nurses call the police to remove a woman whose only crime was wanting someone to help her with her pain? Why did Tadlock assume Dawson was being noncompliant instead of actually listening to what Dawson was saying?
This is a story of a black woman not being taken at her word. This is a story of people in authority assuming she is just being a pain in the ass rather than someone legitimately crying out for help. This is a story of people claiming “how were we supposed to know she wasn’t faking” while dragging a woman out of a hospital in order to avoid taking responsibility for their part in a woman’s death.
[NBC News] Featured image via screen grab