The family of a 37-year-old mother of five who died after a medical call with Ramsey County deputies is alleging in a wrongful death lawsuit that deputies restricted her breathing and doubted her worsening condition as she was restrained.
Nekeya Tamara Moody died Feb. 10, 2020, four days after Ramsey County sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call where Moody was described as having a panic attack and seizure. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court on Jan. 30 on behalf of Moody's mother, Myia Angela Standberry, names deputies Steven Eddicus and Joe Stradinger in addition to the county as defendants.
Spokespeople for Ramsey County and the Ramsey County Attorney's Office said they would not comment on pending litigation.
According to the complaint, Moody suffered from chronic mental health issues including bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
During the Feb. 6, 2020, medical call, deputies arrived to find Moody being held in a bear hug, scared and occasionally yelling out. She "presented no danger to anyone," attorney Paul Bosman wrote in the complaint, but one of the deputies decided to cuff her so that she would not hurt herself.
During the encounter, Moody was placed facedown on the floor as deputies held her arms. At times, the hood of her sweatshirt twisted and covered her face as she struggled. Bosman wrote that Moody yelled "I love my children" and "Please help me" multiple times while deputies held her down.
The hood again allegedly covered her face and neck as Eddicus held Moody down and as her left arm became trapped under her upper torso. Moody "let out a series of weakening screams," according to the complaint, before falling silent seconds later.
"She's playing possum, I think," Eddicus is accused of saying before handcuffing Moody. The complaint said that her arms were "completely flaccid" at that point.
Stradinger meanwhile allegedly knelt on Moody after she was cuffed, "applying his weight to Ms. Moody with his left knee on her left shoulder and his left hand in the center of her back."
"After a minute," the complaint said, Stradinger tried to find a pulse before suggesting placing her on her side.
Allina ambulance personnel entered the home "more than seven minutes" after deputies arrived and more than four minutes after she lost consciousness, the complaint said. The deputies again allegedly made repeated statements that Moody was possibly "playing possum" and claimed that she had "crazy eyes" while she remained motionless and made no sounds.
Once inside the ambulance, "someone questioned" Moody's breathing. A deputy asked if the ambulance crew wanted to get Moody "hooked up or something," to which a crew member allegedly replied: "No, just uncuff her. … She took something, I don't know if it was just alcohol or what."
Moody's cuffs were removed more than nine minutes after she became unresponsive, the lawsuit said, and it took more than three minutes after a possible airway issue was noted for Moody's respiratory status to be assessed and mechanical ventilation efforts started. About 30 seconds after that, responders found Moody to be without a pulse and CPR efforts were started.
She was declared brain dead and removed from life support after donating her organs on Feb. 10.
Allegations in the suit include excessive force against both deputies as well as "deliberately indifferent policies, practices, customs training and supervision" against Ramsey County.
The suit also alleges deliberate indifference to the need for medical care against all defendants, negligence and wrongful death against all defendants.
In an email to the Star Tribune on Wednesday, Bosman relayed a statement from Moody's mother Standberry, which said: "What people need to know is that she was a good person who was trying to get help for the issues she knew she had. People should know that she was a loving mother whose children are growing up without her."