Damonte Woods may need heart transplant after tackle by security guard

10:02 PM, May 17, 2012   |    comments
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By Leisa Zigman I-Team Reporter

Normandy, MO (KSDK) - Was it an unfortunate accident or an excessive use of force?

There are new developments into whether a Normandy High School security guard caused injuries to a student that were so severe; the student may now need a heart transplant.

On October 21, 2011, just after 8 a.m., Damontae Woods' grandmother dropped him off at Normandy High School. Forty minutes later, an ambulance rushed the 18-year-old junior to Children's Hospital for open heart surgery.

A security guard allegedly caused injuries so severe it ruptured his heart. He spent several weeks in ICU, had multiple surgeries, and now his grandmother says, part of his heart has stopped working.

"They want to put him on the list for a heart transplant," explained Luella Woods.

Last week, Damontae and his family met with doctors at St. Louis Children's Hospital to hear why a heart transplant might be his best option.

Damontae said part of his heart has stopped functioning.

"I have to get a new one before it's completely gone and not working no more," he said.

The question the FBI and police are trying to determine is what really happened during those 40 minutes before Damontae was rushed to the hospital?

Damontae admits he ran from security saying he didn't want to get in trouble for being late to class.

For months the I-Team has reached out to the security guard trying to hear his side of the story, but he never responded. Recently, his attorney called the I-Team's Leisa Zigman.

Paul D'Agrosa explained, "My client grabbed him to stop him, to detain him so he could talk to him. That was his job. They both lost their balance and my client fell on top of Damontae. If there was an injury, I believe it happened during the tumble and fall.

D'Agrosa says it was an unfortunate accident. And, in his opinion, it wasn't criminal or a violation of Damontae's civil rights.

"Are you supposed to not chase and just let the kid run off? What if he had a weapon? What if he had drugs? It's his job and the job of all security to investigate," said D'Agrosa.

Damontae has a different version of events saying the guard didn't stumble on top of him.

"He was standing over me and all of a sudden he came down with full force and kneed me on my chest," said Damontae.

Sources close to the case say medical records indicate Damontae did not have a pre-existing heart condition. So, the key question may become whether a stumble could have caused injuries so severe it ruptured Damontae's heart.
"A larger man falling on top of a smaller skinny kid and creating an injury to his chest? My answer is of course that is plausible. It's explainable because of transfer weight because of momentum of one body on top of another," said D'Agrosa.

Damontae is 5'3" tall. He says he is being tutored at home because just taking a few steps leaves him out of breath. He is also retaining fluids and appears bloated and swollen throughout his body. These are all symptom often associated with congestive heart failure.

Wellston police, the FBI and the Normandy School District have reportedly been investigating the incident for more than six months.

No one will comment as to why it is taking so long or to the status of the investigation.

The security guard has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigations. He continues to collect his $41,000 a year salary.


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