Officer Who Handcuffed Dying Woman at ER Resigns

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A white Florida police officer has resigned months after handcuffing a black woman at a hospital where she died less than two hours later.

Blountstown Officer John Tadlock’s resignation is mentioned in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report on the arrest of 57-year-old Barbara Dawson. The report says Tadlock’s actions were appropriate under the circumstances.

Tadlock confirmed in a phone call June 1 that he had resigned but declined to comment further. Police chief Mark Mallory did not respond to phone or email messages about Tadlock’s resignation.

Mallory did say in an email that he was pleased authorities had cleared Tadlock. Mallory asked the state law enforcement department to investigate immediately following Dawson’s death.

“The loss of anybody’s loved one is still a tragedy. I just don’t believe that there was any action by the police that led to any of Ms. Dawson’s conditions,” Mallory said.

Dawson was treated Dec. 21 in the emergency room at Calhoun Liberty Hospital. She was discharged, but refused to leave because she said she didn’t feel well. Tadlock handcuffed her in the emergency room, and she was charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. She collapsed when Tadlock tried to put her in a patrol car.

It was nearly 18 minutes from when Dawson collapsed until she was taken back to the emergency room for a second time after a doctor reassessed her. Dawson died about 90 minutes later.

Tadlock told state investigators that hospital staff assessed Dawson’s condition throughout the incident at his request. It was his understanding that Dawson was stable until the time she was returned to the emergency room.

Tadlock, who immediately called his supervisors after Dawson was readmitted, is heard saying on dashcam audio that he thought Dawson “was being non-compliant by not trying to get in my car and faking it.”

The medical examiner’s office found that Dawson died from a blood clot in the lungs. [According to earlier news reports, two nurses and a paramedic involved in her care were dismissed in March, and the hospital was cited for deficiencies.]
The investigative summary also states that Dawson called 911 twice while at the hospital asking to be transferred to Tallahassee Regional Medical Hospital because she didn’t like the way she was being treated by the doctor and one of the nurses. The operator told Dawson to tell hospital staff of her wishes to be transferred.

The report also says that Dawson requested a longer oxygen tube be provided, which did not happen, and that she was concerned about one of the pills provided because it was not in a sealed or wrapped container.

Calhoun Liberty Hospital was fined $45,000 by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration for deficiencies in care that AHCA Secretary Elizabeth Dudek called egregious. AHCA spokeswoman Mallory McManus said “the hospital is in compliance and the fines are in litigation.”

Two nurses, including the emergency room supervisor, and a paramedic were eventually fired. A search of Florida Department of Health records shows that nurses Jennifer Waldorff and Karen Taylor have had administrative complaints filed against them that could include the revocation of their nursing licenses.

The Tallahassee law firm Parks & Crump, which has handled cases including the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, has been hired by Dawson’s family and is continuing its own investigation before pursing possible legal action against the police department, hospital or both. On Wednesday, communications manager Adner Marcelin said the firm was still waiting to receive a copy of the full investigative summary.

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