A 50-year-old woman threatened suicide, became combative, and repeatedly kicked and fought with Platte County sheriff’s deputies last week shortly before being found unconscious in the back of a transport van, according to a sheriff’s deputy’s account of the incident.
Although deputies reported seating Emma L. Lewis on a bench in the van and fastening her seat belt, they later opened the rear door and found her facedown with the seat belt wrapped around her neck, according to an incident report obtained by The Star on Thursday. Her hands remained handcuffed behind her.
After the Platte City woman died June 9, authorities said she had experienced medical distress during a five-minute trip after being arrested on suspicion of violating an ex parte order and assaulting a law enforcement officer.
Her cause of death has not been released.
A Platte County sheriff’s office spokesman declined to comment Thursday on anything dealing with the arrest and death because the matter is under investigation by the Clay County sheriff’s office.
Before the incident, Lewis had not experienced any medical problems, relatives said. They said Thursday they had not seen the incident report and had not been told the details in it.
Lewis recently had filed for divorce. Deputies had gone to the Platte City home to serve an order of protection against Lewis filed by her daughter, Antonia Ingelse.
According to a court document, Ingelse sought the protection order because she was concerned about her safety. Her mother had been acting irrationally and sometimes became violent on a moment’s notice, Ingelse’s application for the order said.
Ingelse was among relatives who declined to comment Thursday about the incident report.
According to the report, two deputies arrived at the residence in the 11100 block of Northwest Missouri 92 about 2 p.m. June 9. They knocked and looked through a window and saw a pit bull barking at them. Deputies noted there had been two dogs at the residence during a previous visit.
When no one answered the door, the deputies began to walk away but saw Lewis walk to her Jeep in the driveway and put some of her belongings in the back.
Lewis saw them and yelled: “What?” She then slammed the rear gate of the Jeep.
A deputy explained they were there to serve an order of protection. Lewis became argumentative and told the deputies she was moving out. The deputy told Lewis she had a few minutes to gather her belongings such as a toothbrush and then she would have to leave.
As Lewis walked to the east side of the residence, the deputies asked her to put the dog away because they were going inside with her. Lewis said no and walked away.
A deputy grabbed Lewis’ left arm and told her she was under arrest for violating the order of protection. Lewis pulled away, and the deputy grabbed her right arm and placed it behind her. He then handcuffed Lewis with her hands behind her back.
She tried to pull away again. The deputy forced Lewis to the ground. She rolled over facedown and banged her head on the grass. Lewis kicked her legs, inadvertently striking one deputy in the leg.
A deputy requested a transport van to take Lewis to the county jail.
Lewis yelled that she couldn’t breathe. A deputy rolled her onto her back, but she rolled back onto her stomach at least twice. She also banged her head on the ground and kicked her legs.
“She told us that she had attempted suicide four times in the past and she would get it right this time,” the report said.
Lewis also said she was claustrophobic and had not taken her bipolar medication.
As the transport van arrived, Lewis stood and tried to throw herself in front of its rear wheels, but the deputies pulled her back. She kicked one deputy in the leg.
Deputies placed Lewis inside the van and fastened her seat belt as she continued to squirm. After they closed her inside, she banged her head on the interior wall and kicked the van door.
On the way to the jail, a deputy called a supervisor to report the use of force.
After arriving, they opened the back door and saw her face down with the seat belt around her neck. She was not breathing, and the deputies could not find a pulse. They tried to revive her and called an ambulance.
Paramedics pronounced Lewis dead at the scene.
The investigation is expected to take several weeks.