Woman Declared Dead Was About to Be Embalmed When Funeral Home Saw Her Breathing, Attorney Says

Once she was declared dead, the Southfield Fire Department contacted the medical examiner’s office, where the forensic pathologist on duty determined that her body should be released to her family and did not need to undergo further forensic examination, he said.

Timesha has cerebral palsy, which requires three breathing treatments per day, and the pathologist cited her previous medical history as part of the reason why an autopsy was not needed.

But according to Fieger, Timesha’s godmother, a registered nurse, noticed she was still breathing and tried to sound the alarm before she was whisked away to the funeral home — to no avail.

“She indicated that she had seen Timesha breathing and she felt that Timesha had a pulse,” Fieger said at the press conference. “And the police did not respond to her statements that she did not believe her goddaughter was dead… She was in the room, she was there with the police and the EMS and she told them that she had been moving, she saw movements. They told her they did not believe the movements were volitional, that the movements were involuntary, they were related to the drugs they had administered to Timesha, and that it did not change their opinion as to the fact that they felt she was dead.”

Timesha’s family called police around 7:30 a.m. on Saturday after she awoke with pale lips and difficulty breathing. She was declared dead around 8 a.m., and police told her family that the medical examiner and/or a physician agreed with the declaration, Fieger said. She was then placed in a body bag for two and a half hours before arriving at the funeral home.

“I was obtained by the family to investigate negligence, considering Timesha had died when she in fact not only was alive, but maybe was ill to the point where she needed medical treatment, needed transportation to a hospital, but not transportation to a funeral home,” Fieger said at the press conference. “We’re investigating those issues with regards to the police and the medical examiner.”

In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for the Southfield Fire Department says responding authorities “followed all appropriate city, county and state protocols and procedures in this case.”

The spokesperson said the City of Southfield is conducting a “thorough” internal investigation, and so is the Oakland County Medical Control Authority, which will report its findings to the State of Michigan Bureau of EMS, Trauma and Preparedness.

Meanwhile, Timesha’s family continues to heal from the emotional trauma they endured in the incident.

“On behalf of the family, we’re devastated about what has happened. We would like people to continue to pray for Timesha, and keep her family in your prayers,” her mother, Erica Lattimore, said in a statement.

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