An Illinois judge last week rejected claims that the murder charges against two emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who are accused of smothering a Black man to death by strapping him face-down on a gurney were “inappropriate.”
Sangamon County Judge John Madonia disagreed with lawyers for the ambulance company that employed EMT workers Peter Cadigan and Peggy Finley, who were both charged with first-degree murder for 35-year-old Earl L. Moore’s death late last year.
The ruling was made for a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Moore’s family against defendants LifeStar Ambulance Service and Springfield Memorial Hospital, News Channel 20 reported.
Madonia suggested that Cadigan and Finley knew their handling of Moore could kill him.
“Knowledge through training at the most basic levels would suggest that these particular actors or defendants, in this case, had the requisite knowledge to know that what they were doing could cause substantial great bodily harm or potential loss of life,” Madonia ruled about LifeStar Ambulance Service.
On Dec. 18, 2022, Moore’s family members called 911 because he was in the midst of a hallucinatory episode while detoxing. But when Cadigan and Finley responded to the scene, they did not behave the way medical professionals are expected to.
Police body camera footage recorded that fateful day shows Moore sweating profusely before rolling off a bed and onto the floor.
Finely, appearing on the video to be annoyed, pulled Moore up by his arm and told him to “get up” and “quit acting stupid.” When a supervising officer found Moore couldn’t get up, Finley responded with apparent frustration instead of courtesy and respect.
“You’re going to have to walk, ‘cause we ain’t carrying you,” Finley told Moore, emphasizing how he was “seriously not in the mood for this dumb sh-t.”
It was then that State’s Attorney Dan Wright claims Cadigan and Finley placed Moore face-down on a gurney and tightened the straps, allegedly causing him to be smothered to death.
“Knowing based upon their training, experience, and the surrounding circumstances that such acts would create bodily harm and/or death, in violation of the Criminal Code of the state of Illinois, potential penalties faced by both defendants include a range of 20 to 60 years in the Department of Corrections,” Wright said during a subsequent news conference.
An autopsy found that Moore died of compressional and positional asphyxia due to prone facedown restraint on a stretcher.
“They didn’t show any compassion whatsoever,” local NAACP President Teresa Haley said during a press conference Tuesday. “This was a black young man who lost his life due to negligence and we want to make sure justice is being served.”
Haley, who also said she believes the EMS workers “were treating him rougher because he was Black,” noted that if not for the bodycam footage, Cadigan and Finley would have gotten away with their treatment of Moore.
Moore’s family later sued Cadigan and Finley.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Moore’s family and filed the lawsuit, described the death as being “unlike any case in America.”
Crump previously said there was “no excuse” for how Cadigan and Finley treated Moore.
“There is no excuse for the actions of those LifeStar workers that ended his life,” Crump said in a statement emailed to NewsOne last weekend. “EMS workers respond to some of the hardest moments in people’s lives, and their occupation calls for them to operate with care and compassion. Earl saw neither care nor compassion in his last moments when he was suffocating, strapped face down to a stretcher by LifeStar employees.”
The next hearing for the wrongful death lawsuit is scheduled for next month when Springfield Memorial Hospital will seek to be dismissed from the case.
Cadigan and Finley are due back in court later this month to answer for the criminal charges.
This is America.
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