Two paramedics in Illinois have been charged with murder after a patient suffering from alcohol withdrawal died in their care after they acted “indifferently” towards his condition.
On Dec. 18, three police officers in Sangamon County, Illinois responded to a call that reported there were several people inside a home with firearms. When the officers arrived on the scene, they realized the resident, Earl Moore. Jr., who is 35, was suffering from hallucinations due to alcohol withdrawal, according to a press release from the Springfield Police Department.
Shortly after, an ambulance arrived to transport Moore to the hospital. The paramedics who arrived acted “indifferent” to the patient’s needs and did not help him walk to the stretcher (via Springfield Police Department):
At approximately 2:18 a.m., the ambulance personnel arrived and were escorted into the residence. A female paramedic made contact with the patient and instructed him to walk to the ambulance. It is clear based on the officers' body-worn camera footage that the patient was not able to walk and the medical personnel were not offering any assistance. The three officers took turns helping the patient through the residence and onto the stretcher outside. The body-worn camera footage shows the medical personnel place the patient on the stretcher in a prone position and secured him to the stretcher prior to transport.
The Springfield Police Department was later notified the patient had passed after arriving at the hospital. Chief Ken Scarlette requested an independent investigation be conducted by the Illinois State Police (ISP). The Springfield Police Department has cooperated fully with the ISP investigation, providing reports, body-worn camera footage and other requested information.
The Springfield Police Officers who responded to this incident recognized the patient's need and requested medical assistance for the patient. When those personnel acted indifferently to the patient’s condition, the officers took steps to assist the patient, to get him the care he needed, even waiting on scene to ensure the medical personnel loaded the patient into the ambulance. The officers, who are not emergency medical professionals, are not trained nor equipped to provide the necessary medical treatment or to transport patients in this type of situation. The officers turned over care of the patient to the licensed, medical professionals at the scene in accordance with Springfield Police Department policy.
The men and women of the Springfield Police Department join the Springfield community in grieving the unnecessary loss of life and pledge to work with the medical care providers in our area to ensure the citizens of Springfield receive the utmost care and consideration in their time of need.
Sangamon County released a police body camera video from the incident. In the video, a female paramedic can be seen shouting at Moore to stand up and walk to the ambulance.
“Get up. Quit acting stupid,” the paramedic, identified by The New York Times as Peggy Finley, said to the man. “I am not playing with you tonight.”
“You’re going to have to walk ‘cause we ain’t carrying you,” she added. “I am seriously not in the mood for this dumb s***.”
The two officers in the room helped Moore get on his feet while the third police officer grabbed his jacket and other belongings for him to take with him to the hospital. He stood up briefly before collapsing. With the help of the police officers, the Moore got back up and slowly walked to the ambulance, falling multiple times along the way.
The video does not show if the paramedics helped Moore onto the stretcher. He was strapped into the stretcher in a “prone position” and died shortly after arriving at the hospital, police said.
A coroner’s autopsy report obtained by CNN stated that the patient died of “compressional and positional asphyxia due to prone facedown restraint on a paramedic transportation cot/stretcher by tightened straps across back and lower body in the setting of lethargy and underlying chronic alcoholism.”
LifeStar Ambulance Service, Inc., which employs the two paramedics, told ABC News “no comment” regarding the investigation.
Finley and her colleague Peter Cadigan are being held in the Sangamon County Detention Facility on $1 million bonds, according to the Times. Finley’s lawyer told the Times that “having a bad attitude” is not a crime and that “it’s the first thing people want to point to.”
He added that her “indifference” of “lack of bedside manner” did not contribute to the patient’s death.