KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The family of a woman who died in Knoxville Police custody is speaking out after body camera video of her interaction with law enforcement was released.
Family members of Lisa Edwards remember her as independent, outgoing, caring, and a great mother. Her son Tim Boylan said that no matter what, his mother always put her sons first.
“I can’t believe she was treated the way she was. I just can’t even wrap my head around it. I just want people to remember her as a loving, caring person,” Tim Boylan said. “Not what these guys made her out to be. The security guards were saying all kinds of stuff that’s not true about her. She did not deserve to be treated like that. Nobody does.”
The Knox County District Attorney’s Office said that Edwards was on a flight on February 4 from Rhode Island to Knoxville when she began complaining of stomach pain, prompting her initial hospital visit. Lisa’s family say she moved from Tennessee to Rhode Island around Christmas of 2018.
While living in Rhode Island, Edwards suffered her first stroke that left her physically disabled in August 2019, but she was still mentally sound according to daughter-in-law August Boylan.
“She was able to make her own decision as far as you know wanting to move back to Tennessee. She had a plan in place. She was discharged from a nursing home that had her helped arrange her flight to fly back to Tennessee. She was going to be living with a friend in Tennessee,” she said.
Edwards was taken by paramedics to Blount Memorial Hospital after the flight where she was evaluated and discharged according to the TBI’s investigation. The District Attorney’s Office said she sought additional treatment at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center where she was observed overnight before she was released early the next morning. When Edwards refused to leave, security guards issued her a warning for disruptive behavior and trespassing, and then called Knoxville Police Department, who arrested her, the DA’s office released.
After finding out about the investigation, August Boylan questioned what could have happened for the officers to be placed on administrative leave and for an investigation with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to be launched. As a registered nurse, and knowing her mother-in-laws health history, she also said she recognized that they did not have all of the information.
“It’s totally irrelevant of how she got to where she was that morning, but that whole situation that played out for an extended period of time is horrible, absolutely horrible,” August Boylan said. The police officers may not have done anything intentionally criminal to cause anything to happen to her, but they definitely were negligent and had no respect for human life, any basic needs, anything.”
August Boylan said she watched the police video with District Attorney Charme Allen before it was released, but Tim Boylan said he has not. August Boylan explained that she was disgusted to the extent that she was sick to her stomach after watching the video. She said that as a nurse, she doesn’t understand how someone could fake things like it was claimed she was, such as the inability to use her left side and her muscle atrophy.
“You don’t have to be a medical professional to know what the signs of stroke are. And you can see that in her, you know, start to finish. Her speech is completely changes from start to finish. And you know it’s… she’s, she’s struggling to breathe. That is not somebody working themself up like they said in there. That is not somebody faking it. She, I mean, she said it herself, that she was dying, that she was having a stroke.”
Edward’s family is still in disbelief of how she was treated.
“If I treated someone the way they treated her, I’d be in jail right now heading to prison,” Tim Boylan said. “Why are they not? I have no idea.”
The DA’s office released that no charges were filed for the officers involved in the situation, however, Knoxville Police said that an internal administrative investigation was ongoing for the four officers involved when the police video was released.