Ill. EMS, police officers sued by family of man who died after arrest
The lawsuit claims paramedics cleared the man to be taken to the police station, where he collapsed about an hour later
By Andy Kravetz
Journal Star, Peoria, Ill.
PEORIA, Ill. — Several police officers and Advanced Medical Transport disregarded the medical distress of a man almost a year ago, a move that ultimately resulted in his death, the man's estate claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday.
The wrongful death suit, filed in Peoria County Circuit Court, names City Hall, four police officers and AMT as defendants. The officers named are: William England, Joshua Feeney, Ruth Sandoval and Megan Houghton.
In the 30-page suit, the estate states the paramedics and the police officers "willfully and wantonly disregarded" David Smith's "dire medical" condition on Oct. 28, 2019, when he was being arrested in the 900 block of West Johnson Street after allegedly trying to rob a convenience store there. Within an hour, Smith, 33, was lying on his back behind the police station with officers performing CPR on him. And the next day, he was dead.
City Manager Patrick Urich said, "The city has not yet been served with the lawsuit that was filed today by the estate of David Smith, so we cannot comment on of the case."
Andrew Rand, the executive director of AMT, said, "We continue to offer our prayers and support to the family of David Smith. At this time, no other comment is possible."
Smith was initially taken into custody at about 8:40 a.m., Oct. 28, 2019. He was found unconscious in a yard in the 300 block of South Saratoga Street. AMT paramedics cleared him to be taken to the police station, but once he arrived, he was found to be unconscious.
But the lawsuit says the paramedics and the police officers knew Smith was in bad shape at the scene.
"When emergency medical services arrived at the scene, Mr. Smith told them he 'can't breathe.' In response to that comment, the paramedics and/or officers can be overheard saying 'if you can talk, you can breathe' and 'he's fine, I think he is just playing games," the suit states.
It further suggests that paramedics from AMT and police officers created false records to hide their indifference to Smith and said he refused medical care. Instead, the suit alleges, Smith was incoherent and unable to refuse anything.
(c)2020 the Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.)