Two paramedics who were in the ambulance when a Black transgender woman became unresponsive in authorities’ care last month have had their credentials temporarily suspended pending an investigation. The woman’s family says her treatment by first responders who handcuffed her, used a spit hood and briefly kneeled on her was inhumane and discriminatory.
Body-camera footage released Wednesday shows officers and Dallas Fire-Rescue officials pinned down LaDamonyon “DeeDee” Hall and took her to a hospital strapped to a stretcher as she yelled and fought against authorities before she died May 26. Her autopsy report is pending.
Attorney Justin Moore, who is advising Hall’s family, said the 38-minute video raises questions about whether Hall endured anti-LGBTQ discrimination and whether first responders delayed medical care. The video captured authorities repeatedly calling Hall, who was a transgender woman and appeared to be experiencing a mental health crisis, “sir,” “he” or “him,” Moore and family members said.
“We think there were extreme levels of discrimination that have played into the lack of proper response from DPD and that medic in the back of that ambulance,” Moore said Monday at a news conference.
He added: “Our most vulnerable citizens should not be treated in such a manner in which we disregard their pleas for help when they’re dying. We need better, we demand better, and we will fight for better.”
Jason Evans, a spokesman for Dallas Fire-Rescue, said two paramedics, one who was driving and the other who was in the back of the ambulance, had their credentials suspended. Evans declined to say when such action was taken, calling it a “personnel matter,’’ but said it happened “long before DPD posted the body-camera video.”
Evans said the medics are not on administrative leave but are “unable to function in their roles as paramedics.”
Dallas police waited 13 days to release the footage to the public. The department’s general order is that such a video must be released within 72 hours of the incident,although oversight officials said there are some loopholes.The department has said the delay was so the family could review the video.
Family and community leaders said at the news conference that Hall’s death was “fully preventable” and called for an “honest” and unbiased investigation into her death. Police and fire officials have said the officers and paramedics who responded followed proper procedures.
‘Light of all of our lives’
Hall’s cousin, Robbi Reed, who spoke for the family Monday, said the 47-year-old, who would have turned 48 days after her death, was “an amazing spirit.”
“DeeDee was absolutely amazing, the light of all of our lives. [She was] the life of the party and kept us all laughing and uplifted, just an amazing person overall,” Reed said.
When asked by reporters what family would miss most about Hall, several responded in unison, “Everything.”
“DeeDee was full of life, always wanted to have fun, enjoyed spending time with all of us, always helping people. [She was] very outgoing, very giving and loving,” Reed said. “Anybody who was around DeeDee knew that DeeDee was infectious, you just wanted to be in her energy at all times.”
‘She did not deserve that’
Moore said Hall suffered from “bipolar schizophrenia” and appeared to be experiencing a mental health episode when officers approached her about 12:45 p.m. on May 26 in Far East Dallas. Dallas police said an employee called 911 about a disturbance at a business in the 12000 block of Garland Road.
“Our city agencies failed a person who was in dire need of their help,” he said. Hall was also taking a “cocktail of medications,” including diabetes medication and hormone patches, according to Moore.
Family accused first responders of disregard for Hall’s repeated expression of distress, and they criticized the misuse of her pronouns. At multiple points in the video, Hall repeated “I’m dying” or “I’m dead” to officers.
“We all have struggles, you know, and that’s not for anybody to judge. It doesn’t make us inhuman. … The mistreatment that I witnessed was very very hard to watch,” Reed said of the video. “It almost dehumanized DeeDee. She did not deserve that.”
Reed later said, “They almost treated DeeDee like a thing instead of a person.”
Evans declined to comment on the accusations alleged against Fire-Rescue during the news conference. Dallas police spokeswoman Kristin Lowman said in an email that an investigation is ongoing and preliminary information “shows the officers followed policy and procedure.”
Moore said the family is not yet considering legal action for fear it may impede the Community Police Oversight Board’s investigation.
“We’re looking for an honest investigation that’s not biased and treats DeeDee like a human and that looks at all of the facts and evidence in a very sober way,” he said.
Details from the video
The 38-minute video starts with an officer approaching Hall and asking, “What’s going on today?” as she stops and looks at him. “Are you OK?” the officer asks. Hall says “Yeah” and nods.
A short time later, an officer who walked away returns to Hall, who is lying facedown on the ground as three Fire-Rescue officials stand next to her.
Hall says something unintelligible about being killed. “No, we’re not going to let anyone kill you,” a paramedic says. “We want to check you out. Can we take you to the hospital?”
Later, an officer grabs her arms as she pulls her skirt over her head.
The officer pulls her to the ground and she screams. Officers hold her down as she yells, “He said no weapons, you don’t trust me, you [expletive] liars.”
Another officer kneels on her back. Hall yells about God and not having weapons as the officers handcuff her hands behind her back.
An officer tells others they were trying to arrest Hall and stop her from running off and “getting naked.” Hall can be heard screaming as officials lift her onto a stretcher and place a spit hood over her head, then place her in the ambulance.
Hall yells, “I’m dying, I’m dying, [expletive] it,” and screams more curses and tries to sit up while in the ambulance.
Hall falls silent about 30 minutes into the footage. The officer says he’s not sure what’s going on and repeats, “Can you talk to me?” as a paramedic stands up to look at Hall.
The paramedic asks if Hall is hurting anywhere. Hall doesn’t respond. The paramedic rubs Hall’s chest, then pumps it as the ambulance stops at Baylor University Medical Center. The video ends after the paramedics roll the stretcher into the hospital.