Police Held Blameless in Woman’s Death at ER

LOS ANGELES – Prosecutors decided not to file charges against the police officers who arrested Edith Rodriguez while she was writhing in pain on the emergency room floor, arguing that the officers had reason to believe she would get better care at jail than at the hospital.

The 43-year-old mother of three visited the Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital on each of the three days preceding her death complaining of stomach pain. Each time, she was diagnosed with gallstones, given pain medicine and dismissed. At 12:30 am on May 9, two county police officers heard her crying in pain at the hospital’s front entrance. They took her to the emergency room, where a triage nurse allegedly did nothing to help her, even when she began spitting up a dark substance that her boyfriend claimed was blood.

After discovering she had an outstanding warrant for parole violation, the officers decided to take Rodriguez to the Century Regional Detention Center to receive medical attention. She died as the officers pushed her out of the room in a wheelchair.

Deputy District Attorney Susan Schwartz applauded the officers’ compassionate conduct in a letter to the county Sheriff’s Captain James Curtis.

The fates of other hospital staffers involved in the case, however, have yet to be determined.

King-Harbor Hospital, which has been involved in numerous other scandals, is currently awaiting the results of a federal review to determine if it will retain federal certification. County supervisors say that if it fails, the hospital will most certainly face closure.

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