June 3, 2022

The family of a 46-year-old Seattle man who died of a heart attack at home filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle on March 24, 2022, alleging that the delay in receiving life-saving EMS treatment was due to the man’s address being placed on an outdated blacklist for hostility to first responders (a previous tenant at that address was on the blacklist but the blacklist was never updated; the list is checked only once every two years).

On November 2, 2021, the man’s 13-year-old son called 911 because his father was having chest pain and difficulty breathing at home. Even though the paramedics arrived in six minutes, they were ordered to not enter the residence until the police arrived.

Thirteen minutes after the first call to 911, the man’s son again called 911. The paramedics ultimately disregarded the order to wait for police before entering the residence, and entered the residence, used a defibrillator on the man, and began chest compressions. The police arrived fifteen minutes after the initial call to 911. Unfortunately, the man died at home from a heart attack.

The family’s attorney who filed the $10 million lawsuit against the City of Seattle stated, “When you’re keeping a list people’s lives depend upon, that list needs to be accurate and up to date. This one wasn’t. Seattle screwed up.” The man’s daughter added: “People move all the time, all the time. So, if you’re going to flag an entire household or an entire apartment unit as that person in there is combative or someone in there is combative, that has to be accurate.”

The lawsuit alleges that had the paramedics been allowed to enter the man’s residence when they arrived and begin treatment, more than likely he would have survived.


“The prevailing opinion amongst Seattle Fire and SPD is that the current staffing crisis is to blame. It was not the fault of officers that they couldn’t arrive at the scene sooner … officers often arrive on scene at the same time as they [medics] do — sometimes earlier. But since the mass exodus of officers accelerated in 2020, after months of abuse from local activists in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, the situation has deteriorated. Due to severe staffing shortages, police in the North Precinct — where the teen and father lived — are the slowest precinct to respond to 911 calls … In their 2022 budget, Seattle City Council members proposed nearly $11 million in SPD cuts,” according to reporting.

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