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Police custody shouldn’t be a death sentence

In a tragic, yet sadly not unexpected turn of events in police brutality rules, dash cam video of a Florida woman dying in police custody was released to the public this week.

A photo of Barbara Dawson  who went to a hospital to be treated; instead, she was arrested and died shortly afterward. (Photo special to Eagle News)

A photo of Barbara Dawson who went to a hospital to be treated; instead, she was arrested and died shortly afterward. (Photo special to Eagle News)

Barbara Dawson was still complaining about experiencing abdominal pain after being discharged from Calhoun Liberty Hospital in Blountstown Dec. 21. Dawson was then banned from the hospital.

Dawson was held in custody by Blountstown police department for an estimated 20 minutes, and she is seen briefly in the dash cam video. Dawson can also be heard saying things such as “I can’t breathe,” and “I’m going to die.” The officer on the scene wrote it off as Dawson trying to get out of an arrest.

The police officer did not buy her pleas, proceeding to say over his radio that Dawson “was being noncompliant by not trying to get in my car and faking it.” Chief Mark Mallory of BPD told the “Tallahassee Democrat,” felt the officer handling Dawson acted appropriately, saying that becoming involved with Dawson’s medical needs would have been reckless.

The fact that Dawson was pleading for oxygen with the officer should have been a clear indicator that something wasn’t right. When the officer opened the door to check on Dawson, she collapsed on the ground. Medical services weren’t called onto the scene until after Dawson had lost consciousness, and, by that time, it was too late, and

Dawson was already dead. This is clearly a tired- out fad by now. And, it’s getting to be a devastating narrative, that people are losing their lives in police custody. It’s one thing if there weren’t patterns that exemplified white victims, but it’s negligent to say that this isn’t a race issue. Clearly, minorities get profiled by police more than white people.

In what kind of society do we live where people in dire need for medical attention get arrested in the ER waiting room, and then simultaneously die in custody? It has been clear for this decade that real change needs to be made in US police departments, and the accountability that more surveillance brings is a key to stopping police brutality for good.

About The Author

Luke Janke

Luke Janke is a super senior studying journalism at FGCU. When he’s not listening to podcasts, he’s busy producing his own podcast, Full Pulp. Concerts and music are at the forefront of his horizon, and when there’s an ounce of free time you’ll find him in his home studio laying down tracks for his music project, Bull Moose Party. As a self-proclaimed nihilist, his affinity for death is emphasized by the authentic squirrel skull found on his desk in the newsroom.

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