Did KPD officers violate general orders when they arrested Lisa Edwards?

General orders are the rules officers follow when making an arrest and transporting a prisoner.
General orders are the rules officers follow when making an arrest and transporting a prisoner.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 6:52 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Knoxville Police Department officers might have broken several department guidelines when they arrested Lisa Edwards, the woman who went unresponsive in KPD custody and died the next day.

Previous Coverage: Woman dies after becoming unresponsive in Knoxville police custody, 4 KPD personnel on administrative leave

KPD shared its general orders, the guidelines officers follow for prisoner restraint, search and transportation, with WVLT News.

The general order revealed “it shall be the responsibility of the officer(s) to ensure medical assistance is provided” if a prisoner becomes ill or injured.

“Officers should recognize the effects of seizures or other disabilities,” the general order stated. Edwards’ family members said she suffered a stroke in 2019 and hasn’t been able to walk since.

At the end of the KPD body camera video, Edwards can be seen lying down in the backseat of a KPD cruiser; however, general orders stated, “All prisoners shall be seat belted.”

Previous Coverage: GRAPHIC: ‘I am going to die’: Body camera footage released in woman’s in-custody death

Around 20 minutes after she was put in the back of the KPD cruiser, Edwards becomes unconscious, and an officer can be heard telling the others, “I don’t know if she’s faking it or what, but she’s not answering.”

The general orders also said, “Sick or injured prisoners shall be transported in the manner most practical in light of prisoner’s illness or injury.”

The officers took Edwards back to Fort Sanders when she became unconscious.

KPD’s general orders can be viewed in full here.

The three KPD officers and one wagon driver have been on administrative leave since the incident on February 5. KPD Chief Paul Noel told WVLT News last week that he’s expecting the internal investigation to wrap up in the next few weeks.

All four KPD employees have already been cleared of all criminal charges by Knox County District Attorney Charme Allen.

Previous Coverage: DA: Woman in KPD custody died of stroke, no charges to be filed

WVLT News also obtained the employees’ official KPD records. All of their histories are clean, and none of the officers had any violations in their KPD careers.