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Dashcam Video Captures Arrest of Woman Ousted From Florida Hospital Before Dying

Dashcam Captures Woman's Confrontation With Police Before Death 1:33

Attorneys for the family of a Florida woman who died after police forced her out of a hospital last month have released dash camera video recorded during her arrest and the final moments of her life.

Barbara Dawson, 57, went to Calhoun Liberty Hospital in Blountstown, west of Tallahassee, on Dec. 21, but refused to leave when discharged by physicians, police said.

She collapsed while being escorted out of the hospital in handcuffs by a Blountstown officer, and later died.

Image: Barbara Dawson
Barbara Dawson WJHG

The Tallahassee law firm Parks & Crump is representing Dawson's family and released the nearly 2-1/2-hour-long dashcam footage Monday. Though Dawson cannot be seen on most of the video, she can be heard speaking with the officer, telling him she cannot breathe.

In the video, the officer goes to Dawson's hospital room and tells her she has to leave.

"If you feel like you have not been treated properly, you have to go to another facility, OK?" the officer said.

Dawson repeatedly replies, "I can't breathe," and refuses to leave the hospital. At one point, the arresting officer tells Dawson that she seems to be breathing fine.

"You're standing up here and you're talking and you're breathing," he said.

Dawson collapses besides the car, and the officer can be heard telling her that "falling down and laying down, that's not going to stop you from going to jail."

After she collapses, Dawson lies down against the police car for approximately 18 minutes while the officer and nurses check her pulse and attempt to get her into the cruiser. A doctor comes out and instructs the officer to get her on a stretcher.

Dawson was readmitted to the emergency room — where she was pronounced dead an hour later, police said. The Florida state medical examiner ruled that she died from natural causes due to a blood clot in her lung.

Related: Caught on Camera: The History of the Police Dashcam

An incident report obtained by NBC News identifies the Blountstown officer as John Tadlock. He has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing.

In a statement, Blountstown Police Chief Mark Mallory defended the actions of the arresting officer, saying, "Law enforcement officers are not trained medical professionals."

"In Ms. Dawson's case, the responding officer acted appropriately, by requesting immediate assistance from medical professionals. As clearly depicted in the audio recording of the events as they transpired on December, 2015, the officer sough medical attention for Ms. Dawson within less than one minute of her collapse," Mallory said.

He added that although the officer suspected Dawson was "intentionally noncompliant," he "executed his duty and responsibility."

"Regardless, Ms. Dawson's passing is a loss felt by our community, and our thoughts and prayers remain with her family and friends during this time," Mallory said.

In the incident report, Tadlock wrote that medical staff arrived at his patrol car moments after Dawson collapsed.

"It was believed by myself that Dawson was just being non compliant and making herself dead weight in an effort to avoid going to jail. Myself and medical staff made several attempts to place Dawson in my patrol car to no avail," he wrote.

Calhoun Liberty Hospital CEO Ruth Attaway said in a statement released on Monday that they were reviewing the dashcam video.

"Our primary objective in this situation is to remain transparent and to welcome investigation from authorities," Attaway said. "We have already welcomed reviews and investigations from the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as well as the Department of Health."

Dawson's family has plans to file a lawsuit against Calhoun Liberty Hospital for negligence and other claims, attorneys at Parks & Crump told NBC News.

The state Department of Law Enforcement is also investigating the incident.