KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Members of the community gathered in front of the Knoxville City-County Building Monday, to protest the treatment of Lisa Edwards while in police custody.
Edwards was taken into custody after being discharged from Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and died after suffering a stroke in the back of a Knoxville Police Department car.
KPD released body cam footage of the moments leading up to Edwards’s death. Her brother Brad Cox described her as being selfless.
“She loved me. She never drove, but I live in Newport and if I would’ve called her and told her I was in trouble, she would’ve walked, crawled or whatever to get to me. She was just that way,” Cox said.
Edwards was moving back to Knoxville after living in Rhode Island in 2018. Cox wants the public to remember her for having a kind heart.
“She was just different, I mean she was special, she was my special person, and I’ll never see her again,” Cox said. “Her boys will never see her, her grandkids will never see her again, and I just hate that part about it. I mean I’d like to see her one more time just to tell her how much I love her.”
Activists at the protest including Chris Irwin said the police officers and the hospital acted negligently.
“What we saw was brutal indifference. We counted ‘help’ approximately fifty times. She said ‘please’ like eighty times,” Irwin said.
Irwin helped organize the event, just a few weeks after organizing a vigil for Tyre Nichols, who was killed by police in Memphis in January.
“These officers laughed at her, mocked her, called her a liar, and that’s not acceptable. If it didn’t shock people’s conscious to see that, they should at least fake it. That’s why I’m here, I don’t know if these rallies are working, but we’ve got to do something,” Irwin said.
Edwards was in a wheelchair at the time of her arrest and death, and some protesters said disabled people are more at risk than others when dealing with law enforcement. Dawn Schneider attended the protest and is wheelchair-bound.
“It terrifies me, I no longer feel safe here in Knoxville, I really don’t. I asked the City and County ADA to show up tonight and neither did,” Schneider said.
No charges have been filed against the officers involved and Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center is investigating the incident.