The recent death of Ladamonyon Hall and the Dallas Police Departments’ handling of her case is a part of a long history within local police departments where trans people are pushed to the side.
On May 26, Ladamonyon “DeeDee” Hall was reported dead after she was handcuffed to a stretcher when being taken into custody for causing a disturbance at 12002 Garland Road. In 35-minute long bodycam footage, officers arrive on the scene and speak to a frightened and disoriented Hall. About six minutes into the body cam footage, she falls to the ground and begins to speak incoherently. Officers then began to put Hall in restraints and hold her down as she screams, with one officer pressing a knee onto her back. They (medics) then placed a spit hood over her head and restrained her on a stretcher. As Hall is being transferred in the medic’s van, police officers can be heard laughing and smiling as Hall repeatedly screams and thrashes while being restrained. Officers asked Hall repeatedly to calm down and to breathe. They began to actively tend to Hall again when noticing that she was silent. She was unresponsive to both police and medics. Hall was then brought to Baylor Hospital, where she was given CPR, though Hall continued to be unresponsive. An officer then went into Baylor to alert officials in the hospital that the medics needed help. Hall was eventually declared dead. In the bodycam footage, the officers use she/her pronouns and referred to her as “mam.” However, when Hall lifts her dress up and officers attempt to stop her from doing so, they begin using he/him pronouns, and began referring to Hall as “sir.” Hall is also seen throughout the video struggling to breathe.
The video was released by the Dallas Police Department (DPD) 13 days after the death was reported, as opposed to the standard 72 hours. DPD stated this was done to allow the family of Hall to review the evidence. The DPD body cam policy is currently being reviewed.
According to ABC, the family of the victim stated that they believed her death was preventable, demanding a fair investigation. Reed, a family member of Hall, stated that the mistreatment that Hall was subjected to was dehumanizing.
“It [bodycam video] showed the actions were inhumane. It almost treated DeeDee like a thing, instead of a person,” said Reed.
Attorney Justin Moore, who is advising the family stated that the family believes that there was extreme discrimination at play, which factored into the slow response time of police and medics. The medics who were at the scene had their credentials suspended according to Jason Evans, a spokesman for Dallas Fire-Rescue. Though he declined to say when they were suspended, he stated that it took place “long before DPD posted the body camera footage.” While the medics are not on administrative leave, they cannot function in their role as paramedics. Police officers and medics stated that they went through all proper procedures.
Moore stated that Hall suffered from “bipolar schizophrenia” and appeared to be experiencing a mental health episode when officers arrived.
“Our city agencies failed a person who was in dire need of their help,” he said. Hall was also taking a “cocktail of medications,” including diabetes medication and hormone patches,” Moore said.
Hall’s family stated they felt that the police showed a repeated disregard for the visible distress that she was under (saying, “I’m dying,” and “I’m dead”). Evans declined to comment on the accusations against the Fire-Rescue paramedics who showed up to the scene. Kristin Lowman stated that there is currently an ongoing investigation and stated that the investigation is still ongoing, and the initial information also shows that officers followed policy and procedure. The family is not currently seeking legal action, believing that it may impact the Community Police Oversight Board Investigation.
The Use of Spit Hoods
According to ABC, Moore stated they (the family) want the policy community to look at the use of spit hoods. Spit hoods are a mesh bag that it placed over someone’s head by officers to prevent them from spitting or biting. While it is believed that spit hoods alone do not cause significant harm, they can create an issue when mixed with underlying conditions.
“Most of the time, they are safe unless a person has an underlying condition,” Maria Haberfeld, a professor of police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice said to the New York Times.
California lawyer Neil Gehlawat stated that he believes spit hoods can cause physiological stress such as difficulty breathing and a raised heart rate.
“You’ll have the person who is being restrained, usually in a prone position so they’re facedown, there’s already pressure on the diaphragm. And then a spit mask is being put on top of that person, that further restricts their ability to breathe,” Gehlawat told the New York Times.
According to Daily Press, spit hoods have been involved in at least ten deaths since 2001.
Where the Case is Now: Responses from the Community and Police
On June 14th the Dallas Community Oversight Board held a meeting to discuss the complaints levied against DPD in light of Hall’s death. Oversight monitor Tonya McClary stated she experienced “back and forth,” about the release of the bodycam footage, stating that DPD argued the footage showed no misconduct, so they didn’t want to release it until there was further investigation. Hall’s cousin also spoke at the meeting and asked if there was cultural sensitivity training the officers had to undergo (specifically regarding the LGBTQ community), as she noted there was improper language and joking used in the body cam footage. She also questioned the use of spit hoods and asked if there was any advocacy for loved ones of the people who have died in custody as its traumatizing to witness. McClary stated that a relative of Halls was put in contact with DPD’s victim services but resources for families should be put in one place. DPD detectives (according to McClary) also attended the homegoing services for Hall.
“I think DPD is trying to move forward to do some good things for the family but I know it may not feel like it’s enough,” McClary said.
“We have reviewed the video released by the Dallas Police Department and look forward to the completion of the investigation by their Special Investigations Unit. We hope that they will use all resources to conduct this investigation. We will await the completion and release of their investigation results; however, we believe that the content in the video requires additional discussion with our city leadership. As an organization committed to providing community leadership surrounding LGBTQ+ matters, we will closely monitor and develop an action plan after the completion of the city’s investigation.”
The Dallas Police Department’s Statement regarding any updates on the case:
“The Dallas Police Department Special Investigations Unit is investigating this. The Medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy and the results are pending. Preliminary investigation shows that officers followed policy and procedure. There are no updates to report. Dallas Fire Rescue would have to be contacted regarding the credentials of the paramedics.”
*DPD was reached out to a second time regarding updates and stated that while the investigation is still ongoing, there are no further updates.
Dallas Fire Rescue Public Information Officer Jason Evans stated in regard to the two paramedics who had their credentials temporarily suspended. One has had their credentials reinstated as they found there was no involvement in care for the patient during transport. The other medics’ credentials are still suspended, and they are still unable to function as paramedics:
“Upon learning of the death in custody, a medical review of the response was initiated by Dallas Fire-Rescue EMS and the Office of the Medical Director, as is standard. While both paramedics initially had their paramedic credentials temporarily suspended, one of them had theirs reinstated as it was determined the member had no involvement with patient care during transport. The status of the other medic’s license remains the same, and they are unable to function as paramedics”.
The Dallas Weekly will continue to follow this story and bring you real time updates as the investigation continues.