Records refute claims of Youngstown killing victim’s mom that EMTs took full hour to arrive
YOUNGSTOWN — Call logs and audio recordings from the Youngstown police 911 center on the night in 2020 when Brandon D. Wesley, 19, died from a gunshot wound of the shoulder indicate he arrived at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital about 23 minutes after the first 911 call about the gunfire.
He died a short time later. A 911 recording indicates the coroner’s office was notified of his death about 36 minutes after the first 911 call.
That information contradicts allegations in a federal lawsuit filed against the Youngstown Police Department and American Medical Response ambulance company in February by Wesley’s mother, Lynette Wesley of Youngstown.
The suit alleges that it took AMR an hour to arrive at the scene so it could begin to treat Wesley. It also makes other allegations regarding the behavior of officers at the scene. The city and AMR filed written responses to the lawsuit in July, denying they did not respond properly or lawfully to the shooting.
The suit is in the courtroom of Judge Sara Lioi in U.S. District Court in Akron. The case has no trial date. The parties participated in a phone conference last week. One of Wesley’s attorneys indicated that Wesley has a “problem” regarding her legal representation. The judge gave Wesley and her attorneys until Oct. 18 to file either a dismissal of the case, withdraw as her counsel or some other motion to resolve the issue.
The 911 audio recordings indicate that an American Medical Response ambulance arrived at Homestead Park on the South Side, where Wesley had been shot, about 10 minutes after the shooting was reported.
Detectives, crime scene investigators and the coroner’s office were called out to the scene to investigate the case about 40 minutes after the shooting was reported.
But the recordings show that Lamar Blair Jr., Wesley’s brother, grew increasingly frustrated while on the phone with 911 during those 10 minutes of waiting for an ambulance.
Officers also expressed a desire for the ambulance company to hurry up once it became apparent that Wesley had a life-threatening injury and badly needed help. Youngstown police did intervene to provide CPR before ambulance personnel got there, according to a police report.
Blair called 911 about 20 seconds after the 911 center got a call from a woman reporting gunfire at the park. Blair told a call taker his brother had been shot in the arm and was awake but not breathing very well.
A little more than two minutes into the call, a dispatcher told Blair an ambulance was “on the way.” And, an AMR call taker told Blair to put a cloth or shirt tightly around Wesley’s arm, apparently to slow the bleeding.
By about three minutes into the call, Blair said his brother no longer was talking, and Blair could be heard calling his brother’s name two times. The AMR employee told Blair to turn Wesley over to see if he had any other wounds than the one in his arm.
By about four minutes into the call, police officers apparently were “on scene,” according to the radio calls.
At about 7 1/2 minutes into Blair’s call, he told ambulance and 911 personnel his brother’s injury is in his shoulder and also told someone screaming at the scene that the shooter was “a kid.”
At about 8 minutes into Blair’s call, a dispatcher could be heard telling the ambulance company to “expedite” its response and asked where the ambulance was coming from. A male at AMR said he was checking.
Blair could be heard swearing into the phone and asking why the ambulance was not there yet.
At about 9 1/2 minutes into the call, Blair said, “I hear them coming down here,” referring to an ambulance.
In a separate radio call from an officer to a dispatcher, he stated about 8 minutes after the first 911 call: “This may be more serious than a shot in the arm. Tell the (ambulance) to step it up right now.”
Another radio call about 14 seconds later stated: “It’s serious,” an officer said, asking how much longer. One minute, he was told.
About 17 minutes after the first 911 call, a 911 operator informed St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital police that a shooting victim is “on their way to you guys” and “The ambulance is en route as we speak.”
About 36 minutes after the initial 911 call, a dispatcher notified the coroner’s office, “We need the coroner” for the shooting at Homestead Park. At about 41 minutes after the first 911 call, a dispatcher advised that crime scene investigators, detectives and the coroner’s office “are en route” regarding the Homestead shooting.
In addition to the allegation that it took an hour for AMR to get to the scene, the lawsuit makes other allegations, some of which are refuted in responses filed with the court by lawyers for the city and AMR.
The shooting happened about 9:45 p.m. near the park, located at Homestead Street and East Dewey Avenue on the South Side. Wesley’s brother told a 911 call taker Wesley was shot in the arm and the shooter was on a dirt bike.
One of the allegations in the lawsuit is that police officers and AMR personnel violated Brandon Wesley’s 14th Amendment rights by being “deliberately indifferent to his medical needs due to (his) race, African American.”
An AMR ambulance response filed in late July denies that AMR ambulance arrived one hour after the first 911 call. The AMR response does not go into detail, such as providing the time the first AMR ambulance arrived.
But the AMR filing states that the “dispatchers, paramedics and EMTs timely responded to the ‘911 call’ in order to provide emergency medical services to Brandon Wesley.”
The response denies the allegation that AMR “breached its duty to provide (Brandon Wesley) with timely emergency medical assistance ….”
The AMR response gives an “affirmative defense” statement, saying: “None of the actions of (AMR) or any paramedic, EMT or dispatcher, involved in the emergency medical services or medial care provided to Brandon Wesley constituted willful, wanton misconduct or reckless disregard for the rights of Brandon Wesley.”
It states that none of the company’s actions “satisfy the requirements for an award of punitive damages” against the company.
It states: “At all times, (AMR and its employees involved in the matter) acted in good faith, without any recklessness, without any wanton or willful misconduct or disregard for the rights of (Brandon Wesley) and without malice.”
The AMR response also states that the company and its paramedics, dispatchers and EMTs involved in providing care to Wesley “are entitled to immunity from all claims alleged in the complaint” because of an Ohio law that grants such immunity.
The law cited grants such immunity from a “civil action for injury, death or loss to person or property resulting from the individual’s administration of emergency medical services, unless services are administered in a manner that constitutes willful or wanton misconduct.”
The AMR response also alleges that the lawsuit does not properly allege any claims against the company that invoke Brandon Wesley’s 14th Amendment rights to life, liberty or property without due process of law. The 14th Amendment also provides “equal protection of the laws.”
The city of Youngstown also filed a response to the lawsuit in July, also denying liability in Wesley’s death.
It also denies the allegation that Youngstown officers, including Malik Mostella and Chad Zubal, had a duty to render aid to Wesley and failed to do so and prevented others from giving aid to Wesley.
Zubal is the lead detective in the case. Though no documents could be obtained to show what time Zubal responded to the scene, detectives were not called to the scene until after Wesley had died, according to 911 audio recordings.
No arrests have been made in the case.
A Youngstown police report states that several officers responded to Homestead Park for the shooting and observed Wesley “laying on the hillside on E. Dewey Avenue near the pavilion with an apparent gunshot wound to his left shoulder.”
Initially Wesley had a “fast and pronounced pulse,” but “after waiting a short period of time,” a detective sergeant checked for a pulse but could not find one.
“I checked again and also did not find a pulse, at which time I started chest compression in an effort to help Wesley,” officer Jacob Short stated in the report.
“Just as I started, AMR medics arrived on scene to provide medical aid for Wesley,” he stated.
Mostella was among the eight officers mentioned in the police report as being at the scene, but Zubal was not listed as being at the scene.
The city’s response to the lawsuit also denies “for want of information” the allegation that any police officers “were deliberately indifferent to (Wesley’s) medical needs” or that the actions of police officers were “part of a pattern, practice and / or policy of” the Youngstown Police Department.
Brandon Wesley was a graduate of Youngstown Chaney High School and Choffin Career Center, where he studied culinary arts, according to his obituary. He worked at Rips Cafe in Struthers and VXI call center in Youngstown, the obituary stated.
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Massimo Terzigni and Joel Sansone of Pittsburgh.
The AMR response was filed by attorneys for the Cleveland law firm of Bonezi Switzer Polito and Hupp, including David C. Comstock of Canfield.
Youngstown’s response was filed by attorney James Climer of Youngstown.