The family of a Dallas transgender woman who died in police custody is speaking out, expressing their concerns over how police and paramedics responded.
Family and advocates are demanding a thorough investigation into the May 26 death of Dee Dee Hall.
Her family, an advising attorney and community advocates gathered in Downtown Dallas to address the media over their concerns and demands. They revealed Hall battled mental health problems but that she lived her true identity and was loved by many.
“Dee Dee was absolutely amazing,” said cousin Robbi Reed. “The light of all of our lives.”
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On June 8, the Dallas Police Department released a 38-minute video with body-worn video and provided a narrative of the deadly encounter in East Dallas.
An employee at a car dealership called 9-1-1 to report a woman acting erratically. She was yelling and falling down.
The caller said it appeared as if the woman was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
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In the video, officers responded and found Hall outside near the car lot. One official asked if she was ok. Hall didn't verbally respond but nodded
She then became upset and mumbled something about being left behind by someone. From there, she proceeded to walk away from the officers, grabbing at her clothing appearing to try to remove her dress. Officers then stopped her, and a struggle ensued that ended with her being restrained on the ground.
Officers also placed a spit guard around Hall’s head.
Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedics were called to the scene to transport Hall to the hospital for a mental evaluation, according to DPD.
Video shows an officer inside the ambulance with a medic as Hall continues to thrash and scream.
Family members revealed Hall was bipolar schizophrenic. She also had diabetes and wore hormone patches.
The family’s attorney did not want to discuss what may have led up to the initial encounter.
“What led up to this person experiencing a mental health episode being at this place causing a disturbance I don’t think that’s really important,” said Dallas attorney Justin Moore. “We have folks who experience mental health episodes daily, who end up where they shouldn’t be, and they need to be treated with care.”
Hall’s family did not want to speak to any legal issues related to the encounter saying they do not want to prematurely give authorities an opportunity to find justifications.
They are, however, questioning how Hall was treated.
“The way the process was handled, how she didn’t receive what I believe was humane treatment at this time,” said Reed. “[They] almost treated Dee Dee as a thing instead of a person.”
Reed and other family members are upset that first responders are heard on video addressing Hall by the wrong pronouns like, ‘sir’ or ‘bud.’
“If Dee Dee lives her life being called a ‘she,’ that’s what she should be called and it’s not a joking matter,” said Reed. “It shows great disrespect not only to the individual but the community at large.”
A paramedic can be seen on the officer’s body camera video looking down at a cell phone, and the family is upset at moments when it appears first responders are joking around or laughing.
“The jokes were some of the most disheartening things to watch,” said Reed. “It’s not a joking matter.”
At one point in the video, first responders notice Hall has stopped moving or screaming.
“She says: ‘I’m dying. I’m dying,’ and the last words she says is: ‘I’m dead,’ and there’s no response from the medic or police,” said Moore.
A paramedic then checks Hall and begins life-saving measures. The 47-year-old later died at Baylor Medical Center. Autopsy and toxicology results are pending.
It is a death that Hall’s family and attorney believe was "100% preventable."
“We need better. We demand better and we will fight for better,” said Moore.
Moore said the family is not considering legal action at this time, but they will conduct their own investigation and seek an independent autopsy.
DPD declined to speak about the case on camera but responded to NBC 5’s questions.
The preliminary investigation shows the officers involved followed policy and procedure, according to a department spokesperson Kristin Lowman.
The officers involved in the encounter are on active duty. The paramedics are on active duty as well, but DFR’s spokesperson Jason Evans tells NBC 5:
‘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. Both paramedics have had their paramedic credentials temporarily suspended pending the outcome of a complete and thorough investigation of the incident.’
The family has expressed concern over all of the officers and paramedics not being taken off the streets pending the results of investigations.
DPD also told NBC 5 body camera video was not released within 72 hours of the incident, as is policy, because the department wanted the victim’s family to watch the body-worn camera video first, which the family confirmed they did.
The city’s Police Community Oversight Board is also investigating the case and has been in contact with the family, according to Moore.
The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office is conducting its own investigation and has reviewed body-worn cameras, according to DPD.