Autopsy Reveals Lisa Edwards Died of a Stroke
There will be no criminal charges filed against any of the officers involved in the arrest of Lisa Edwards. An autopsy conducted by medical examiners with the Regional Forensic Center concluded that Lisa Edwards died of natural causes, namely “ischemic stroke due to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease” and “that at no time did law enforcement interaction cause or contribute to Ms. Edwards’ death.” Lisa Edwards became unresponsive while in police custody on February 5, 2023, and died at the Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center on February 6, 2023. District Attorney General Charme Allen asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to conduct a thorough and independent criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding Edwards’ death. Based upon the conclusions of that investigation and the natural cause of death as determined by the Medical Examiner, Gen. Allen has determined that no criminal charges will be filed.
During its investigation, the TBI learned that Edwards flew to Knoxville from a nursing home in Rhode Island on February 4, 2023. Edwards had previously suffered a stroke that left her wheelchair bound. At some point during the flight from Rhode Island to Knoxville, Edwards began complaining of abdominal pain. Upon landing at McGee Tyson Airport, paramedics were called to transport her to Blount Memorial Hospital. Edwards was evaluated at Blount Memorial and was diagnosed with constipation prior to being discharged by the medical staff. Edwards sought additional treatment that same day at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center where she was admitted and observed overnight. She was discharged by Fort Sanders at approximately 6:55 on the morning of February 5, 2023. After being discharged by Fort Sanders, Edwards refused to leave the premises. Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center security officers issued a trespass warning for “Disruptive Behavior, Trespassing” and then called the Knoxville Police Department.
When KPD officers arrived at Fort Sanders, they were told by security officers that Edwards had been evaluated, discharged, and was refusing to leave. Officers asked Edwards to leave but ultimately decided to arrest her for Criminal Trespass after she repeatedly refused to leave Fort Sanders property. KPD called for a transportation wagon to take Edwards to be booked at the Roger D. Wilson detention facility. When the transportation wagon arrived, officers were unable to successfully load Edwards into the wagon due to her mobility issues. After several attempts, officers called a patrol cruiser to the scene so that Edwards could be more easily loaded into a vehicle that was lower to the ground.
Edwards was placed in the back seat of the cruiser and was being transported to the detention facility when the officer stopped to deal with another motorist and saw that Edwards had become unresponsive. The officer called for an ambulance that transported Edwards back to Fort Sanders Regional. At the hospital, Edwards was placed on life support until she passed away on February 6, 2023.
On February 7, 2023, an autopsy was conducted by Dr. Christopher Lochmuller, a medical examiner with the Regional Forensic Center. Based upon the findings of the autopsy, the review of medical records, and the review of evidence in the case, including officer body cameras, Dr. Lochmuller determined that Edwards died of natural causes, namely an ischemic stroke due to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. He further determined that “Multiple law enforcement videos were reviewed to gather additional context surrounding Ms. Edwards’ death. From a review of these videos, it is evident that at no time did law enforcement interaction cause or contribute to Ms. Edwards’ death. Specifically, Ms. Edwards was not beaten by the police, she was never subdued, there was no physical struggle between law enforcement and Ms. Edwards, and there was no restraint asphyxia. Rather, Ms. Edwards went into cardiac arrest in the back of a police cruiser due to a combination of her natural diseases.”
Pursuant to the duties of the District Attorney General, this law enforcement file was reviewed to determine whether criminal charges were warranted in this matter. Applicable criminal statutes were reviewed to determine if charges were supported by probable cause and ultimately proof beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury. The file was not reviewed to determine whether violations of civil law or violations of departmental policies and procedures occurred as those determinations would be outside the purview of this Office.
To that end, every criminal statute is comprised of elements that outline the criminal act and criminal intent necessary to hold an offender accountable for a given offense. In this instance, based upon the findings of the medical examiner, there was no criminal act on the part of the individuals involved that caused Edwards’ death. As determined by the medical examiner, Edwards died of natural causes. For these reasons, Gen. Allen concluded that the officers involved share no criminal culpability in the death of Lisa Edwards.
If you have any questions, please contact Sean McDermott at 865-215-2515 or [email protected]. For more information about the District Attorney’s Office, visit our website at dag.knoxcountytn.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.