KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen said she can't press charges in the death of Lisa Edwards because nothing criminal happened.
"Legally, the entire case came down to the autopsy. Was Lisa Edwards murdered? Was she the victim of a homicide?" said Allen. "In this case, that determination rested solely with the Knox County Regional Forensic Center and the forensic pathologists there have determined that this was not a homicide."
The autopsy report written by Dr. Christopher Lochmuller said he reviewed the videos of what happened and determined "it is evident that at no time did law enforcement interaction cause or contribute to Ms. Edwards' death."
"Specifically, Ms. Edwards was not beaten by police, she was never subdued, there was no physical struggle between law enforcement and Ms. Edwards, and there was no restrain asphyxia," he wrote. "Rather, Ms. Edwards went into cardiac arrest in the back of a police cruiser due to a combination of her natural diseases.”
Gen. Allen said her hands are tied from a prosecution standpoint. Still, she's disappointed in the officers' actions.
"I have watched thousands of police videos and in the vast majority of them, the police treat people with respect and dignity," she said. "In this particular case, these officers did not treat Lisa Edwards with respect or dignity. I believe they showed a lack of compassion, a lack of empathy. They treated her in definitely a sub-par manner."
She said any civil actions or disciplinary actions aren't in the purview of her office. The family of Lisa Edwards told 10News they're considering filing a lawsuit.
Knoxville Police Chief Paul Noel said he "was disturbed and embarrassed by what [he] saw in the video."
He said he went from church to KPD as soon as he found out about the situation to review the videos, "which were incredibly difficult to watch."
He said he placed the employees on administrative leave immediately.
"My expectation is that our officers treat every person they encounter, regardless of the context or situation, with respect, dignity and basic decency. We should also take pride in helping those who need it," he said. "The involved employees have been on admin leave since February 5 and a comprehensive internal review of the case is underway."
He said the result of its internal investigation will be released once it is completed "as quickly as possible without compromising the integrity or fairness of that investigation."
Full Statement from Chief Noel:
“As soon as I was notified of the situation involving Lisa Edwards, I went directly to headquarters from church to meet with the Field Operations commander, Central District commander, the Investigations Bureau leadership team and members of the Internal Affairs Unit. We reviewed the now-publicly released videos from that situation, which were incredibly difficult to watch.
After reviewing the video, I personally called District Attorney General Charme Allen and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch to brief them on that situation. I also notified Police Advisory & Review Committee Director Tiffany Davidson. The involved employees were also placed on administrative leave.
We cooperated fully with the TBI’s investigation. We also made a commitment to release the video, because we felt strongly that the public both needed and deserved to see it.
I was disturbed and embarrassed by what I saw in the video.
My expectation is that our officers treat every person they encounter, regardless of the context or situation, with respect, dignity and basic decency. We should also take pride in helping those who need it.
The involved employees have been on admin leave since February 5 and a comprehensive internal review of the case is underway.
Now that the TBI's criminal investigation has concluded and District Attorney General Allen announced that her office would not pursue criminal charges, our Internal Affairs investigators are working to complete that investigation as quickly as possible without compromising the integrity or fairness of that investigation. The results and outcome of the investigation will be released as soon as it has been completed and approved by myself and the chain of command.”