Florida woman dies in parking lot after police forcibly remove her from hospital

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.

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



  1. Avatar

    Brooklyn Culture Jammers

    January 8, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Florida is not a place I’d like to be if I had a medical emergency. Some history– It took the medical establishment over a decade to live down the practice of hospitals ‘dumping’ patients in the early days of the AIDS crisis. See Randy Shilts’ AND THE BAND PLAYED ON for some details. in my own experience, a relative with dementia recently entered hospice for untreatable cancer. the Florida doctors there disobeyed family wishes and signed directives, withdrew her from palliative care and put her on cancer chemotherapy meds. It took court orders to get them to stop. IMHO you’re better off in any EU country’s emergency room than you are in a hospital in the Sunshine State.

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    January 8, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    The nurses and workers at the hospital deserve to be fired and charged, the price fired and charged. They just murdered someone. There’s no excuse.

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    Kylee Kupferschmid

    January 8, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    I myself recently suffered a Pulmonary Embolism (clot in the lung). I was immediately admitted into a Central Illinois hospital and placed on anticoagulation medication and a heart monitor. All after complaining of “not being able to breathe”. This woman suffered at the hands of what should have been her heroes. The family should seek a medical malpractice suit against the hospital and it’s emergency staff!

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    Jamie Acevedo

    January 8, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    This is a story of terrible nurses and hospital staff who should be fired. We already know Doctors are not experts at knowing when a person requires medical attention.

  5. Avatar

    Jamie Acevedo

    January 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Police not doctors.

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    January 9, 2016 at 1:50 am

    As someone with a rare medical condition, I’ve seen it all the time – doctors do not believe you unless you have gore spilling out of your body and they can rush in and play hero. If the condition is invisible, they will not help you until it’s too late. This is why strokes, heart attacks, blood clots and chronic pain illnesses are never dealt with until it’s past a certain tipping point. Doctors have massive egos and they think everyone is pulling a fakey to get out of work, or to get attention. It pisses me off. They need to practice the compassion they swore an oath to uphold.

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    Holly Voitkus

    January 9, 2016 at 6:16 am

    Im so glad I live in Australia!!

  8. Avatar

    Carolyn Clark

    January 9, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    As an R.N. retired) who started her career in a metropolitan hospital’s Emergency Department, I am utterly appalled at the way this woman was treated. There is no excuse for it. She should have, at the very least, been admitted to the hospital for overnight observation. This hospital, its’ ER staff, and it’s BOD should be sued for the maximum amount recoverable.

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    Simon Peters

    January 11, 2016 at 7:39 am

    Another American policemen who thinks he knows best. Her death is his responsibility. I hope he has the wit to regret this ghastly incident for the rest of his life. Shame on him, and shame on the hospital too. Civilised behaviour is disappearing from America.

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    January 11, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Don’t get me wrong, what happened to this woman was awful and the hospital needs to be held accountable, however, this article makes it sound like she is simply more important than any other individual simply for the color of one’s skin. Don’t all lives matter? If she was white, the person writing this article wouldn’t say a word. It’s people like this that make racism so fluid in America.

  11. Avatar

    Simon Peters

    January 12, 2016 at 2:26 am

    Jay, don’t be an idiot every day of your life – take a day off. It’s comments like yours that, obsessively, bring everything round to a question of race. The problem is actually one of a mind set in the police of America. Needless to say the behaviour of the hospital staff was appalling. Shame on them and on the policeman. I hope their consciences bother them every day of the rest of their lives.

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    January 12, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Idiot? The first paragraph spells it out. The police are not Doctors they only know what they’re told. Seems to me like certain people only see what they want. I guess intelligence does come into play….for some.

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