The family of Frederico Becerra will receive a $250,000 payout from Metro government, after Council authorized the department of law to settle a lawsuit brought by the deceased man’s sister.
Becerra, who was epileptic, died in 2004 after a 911 call brought Metro Fire Department employees to his Nashville residence. There are conflicting reports of what exactly transpired next, but Metro emergency responders claim Becerra became combative.
A neighbor who witnessed the incident said Becerra told Emergency Medical Technicians simply to leave him alone.
The six EMTs reportedly decided to restrain Becerra so they could check his vital signs. While they attempted to do so, Becerra stopped breathing and could not be resuscitated.
His sister, Stephanie Peete, filed suit against Metro claiming the EMTs applied weight to Becerra’s head, back, neck, shoulders, torso and legs. The suit claims that Becerra, 38, never posed a threat to himself or the paramedics.
According to analysis from Metro Council attorney Jon Cooper, the Fire Department did not have an established policy for how first responders should restrain someone when necessary. Such a policy has since been established.
Nonetheless, the Metro medical examiner determined Becerra’s cause-of-death was his seizure disorder, with an enlarged heart listed as a secondary cause of death.
This opinion was seconded by Metro’s own medical expert, who reviewed the case after Peete’s lawsuit was filed.
Peete’s attorneys produced their own expert, who said Becerra died because of pressure applied to his chest when he was restrained.
“Since there is conflicting testimony as to the combative nature of the patient, no written protocol regarding restraint, and the EMS crew’s testimony that they never received proper training, it is possible that a jury could return a larger verdict against the Metropolitan Government,” the Council agenda analysis said in recommending the $250,000 settlement.
No disciplinary action was ever taken against any of the Metro workers.
Download court documents listed below for additional information.