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After federal judge dismisses wrongful-death suit against Tampa police, widow sues city again

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Last month, a federal court dismissed the wrongful-death lawsuit against the Tampa Police Department after a diabetic man died in 2014 during a police stop.

The man’s widow is now suing the city of Tampa and in Hillsborough County Circuit Court.

On April 16, 2014, Tampa police stopped Arthur “Art” Green Jr., a 63-year-old community activist, after responding to a call about a wrong-way driver. Officers pulled over Green, who was visibly disoriented and forcibly removed him from the vehicle when he refused to leave.

Restrained on the ground, long drawn out process sure stopped breathing within a couple of minutes. CPR attempts failed to revive him, and Green died at St. Joseph’s Hospital within the hour.

Green’s widow, 70-year-old Lena L. Young — also known as Lena Leanora Young and Lena Young Green — filed a federal wrongful-death suit, accusing the TPD, Officer Andrew Portman and others involved of violating Green’s constitutional rights by negligently not providing him with immediate medical care during a hypoglycemic incident.

Young also serves as executive vice president of LIFT Health, a Tampa-based nonprofit to develop “true solutions for health issues and lifestyle inadequacies for our youth and their families.”

In 2016, the City of Tampa filed a motion to dismiss Young’s suit; U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven dismissed all eight counts March 6, 2017, but gave Young the option to pursue two of the counts against the Tampa in a local court.

Scriven ruled that even though Portman was aware that Green might be suffering from a medical issue at the time, he lacked the medical ability to know the nature of the issue, its seriousness, or whether Green needed immediate medical attention.

Even if the officers’ actions amounted to “gross negligence,” Scriven said they did not show “deliberate indifference.” Also, although methods used to restrain Green might have contributed to his death, police did not use “excessive force.”

Scriven concluded that even with 29-million diabetics in the U.S., the TPD is under no obligation to train officers to recognize signs of hypoglycemia.

As a result, Lena Young filed a two-count wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Tampa April 7, 2017. The suit, in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, attempts to pursue two of the eight claims made in the federal lawsuit.

After Art Green’s death, his family set up the Arthur Green Jr. Memorial Foundation, which has supported an effort to change the name of Tampa’s Robles Park Center to the Arthur Green Jr. Community Center. The nonprofit also sponsored a health fair with LIFT Health, as well as a “community conversations series” titled “Injustice & Inequality in Tampa’s African-American Community in the Buckhorn Era.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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