Patient's family sues Ill. EMTs, ambulance company over his death
Peter J. Cadigan, 50, and Peggy Finley, 45, are currently being held in the Sangamon County Jail on $1 million bonds each
UPDATE (3:12 P.M. CT):
By KATHLEEN FOODY
The Associated Press
CHICAGO — The family of an Illinois man whose death prompted murder charges against two EMS providers who strapped him facedown on a stretcher has filed a lawsuit against them and their employer, attorneys said Thursday.
Ben Crump, whose firm often handles civil rights cases and frequently represents the families of Black men killed by police, is representing 35-year-old Earl Moore's family in the lawsuit against Peter Cadigan, Peggy Finley and LifeStar Ambulance Service. Speaking to reporters, Crump said police video of the paramedics' interactions with Moore showed "barbaric" behavior.
"We saw it with so many tragedies in America," Crump said, referencing killings of Black men by police, including George Floyd. "It's just so tragic that now this pattern seems to be spilling over to the first responders, to the EMTs. When you look at that video, the reason it's so shocking is because they offer Earl no consideration."
Prosecutors have separately charged Cadigan and Finley with first-degree murder, accusing them of tightly strapping Moore on a stretcher after Springfield police who initially responded to a 911 call at Moore's home requested an ambulance. Under Illinois law, a first-degree murder charge can be filed when a defendant "knows that such acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm."
Moore's mother, Rose Washington, said losing her only son has been unimaginably painful.
"They tied him down like some kind of animal and killed him," she said. "My baby suffocated because of their actions."
Edward Unsell, Cadigan's attorney, said he had not seen the suit yet but a civil lawsuit had been anticipated.
As for the murder charge, Unsell said he doesn't believe prosecutors have probable cause against Cadigan.
W. Scott Hanken, Finley's attorney, also called the criminal charge unwarranted, saying, "What happened may be negligent, but it's not a criminal act and certainly not first-degree murder."
A woman who answered the phone at LifeStar Ambulance Service's office and did not provide her name declined to comment.
Experts in emergency medicine have said the Springfield case is a rare instance of prosecutors filing criminal charges against emergency medicine providers. Another prominent example is pending in Colorado, where a grand jury in 2021 indicted two paramedics along with three police officers for manslaughter and other charges in the death of a Black man, Elijah McClain.
Cadigan and Finley remain in the Sangamon County jail on $1 million bond each. They appeared via video for a brief court appearance Thursday, but no additional details of the case were discussed. They were scheduled to appear again Friday morning.
After Sangamon County prosecutors filed the charges this month, Springfield police released the videos which show a woman inside Moore's home telling police that he is in withdrawal from alcohol and hallucinating. Police then call for an ambulance.
When Finley arrives she enters the bedroom, where Moore is on the floor. Soon after, she yells at him to sit up and asks repeatedly for his birth date.
"Sit up," she says. "You know what, I am not playing. Sit up. Quit acting stupid. Sit up. Sit up now. I am not playing with you tonight."
"You're gonna have to walk cause we ain't carrying you," she adds.
Once outside the house, the video shows Cadigan forcefully putting Moore onto his stomach on the stretcher and both paramedics tightening straps across his back.
Springfield Police Chief Ken Scarlette has said he asked Illinois State Police to investigate after learning that Moore died after arriving at the hospital. An autopsy report listed Moore's cause of death as homicide by compressional and positional asphyxia.
By Rachel Engel
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Two EMTs facing murder charges are expected to appear in court for the first time on Thursday, ABC News reported.
Following the death of a patient in their care, LifeStar Ambulance Service providers Peter J. Cadigan, 50, and Peggy Finley, 45, were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. The pair are currently being held in the Sangamon County Jail on $1 million bonds each.
Police said they attempted to care for Moore when paramedics “acted indifferently to the patient’s condition.”
In a press release, the Springfield Police Department confirmed the actions of officers on scene.
"The officers took steps to assist the patient, to get him the care he needed, even waiting on the scene to ensure the medical personnel loaded the patient into the ambulance," the Springfield Police Department said in its press release last week. "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."
Teresa Haley, president of the Springfield branch of the NAACP, compared the incident to the 2020 murder of George Floyd in police custody.
"They literally threw his hands behind and strapped him down. He couldn't move if he wanted to and he's face down," Haley said at a press conference last week. "They did not show any compassion whatsoever to this individual. He should be alive today."
Video: Is deeply disturbing patient care murder?
When lots of red flags are waving, assess the patient, provide compassionate care and always take “I can’t breathe” seriously