The death of an elderly man who was injured while being restrained by security guards has been ruled a homicide.
James E. McBride, a 74-year-old man who was a patient at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, in Washington, D.C., suffered neck injuries after being restrained by security guards while attempting to leave the grounds on Sept. 29, The Washington Post reported. McBride had reportedly failed to sign out of the hospital.
According to a Jan. 4 statement from the Washington, D.C., medical examiner's office, McBride’s death, which occurred two days after the incident in which he was restrained, was caused by “blunt force injuries” of the neck, which included “vertebral artery compression” and “cervical spinal cord transection.”
The security guards were reportedly special police officers licensed through the D.C. police department. They are qualified to carry weapons and have arrest powers limited to the hospital campus grounds. As a result of the altercation with McBride, both guards were fired from the hospital, placed on administrative leave by the police department, and later left the police department, according to WUSA.
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Much debate has ensued on Reddit, as several health care employees have commented on the particulars of this case.
“As a nurse, I can tell you that these injuries are EXTREME," Reddit user my2penniesworth wrote, "and indicate that the person(s) restraining this man, most likely face-down, put enough pressure on the back of his neck to completely sever his spinal cord and closed off the main blood vessel going into the area of the brain that controls breathing and heart rate. I think someone had to have been kneeling or standing on his neck with the full force of their body weight in order to achieve these injuries.”
“I work security at a hospital,” user PerfectXanadu added. “If it had been me to commit that crime, I would be sitting in jail right now. We've been given strict do and dont's for interacting with patients and visitors with a clear threat of being fired, going to court or jail time if violated. I'm not even allowed to touch patients unless they are a clear threat to themselves or staff, or they make the first move because they just need a hug.”
D.C. police plan to continue investigating the death, and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the district stated that there is an ongoing investigation into the incident, reports The Washington Post. No charges have been filed yet.
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In a statement released by the hospital, officials said they were cooperating with authorities and that training of care teams and security officers will be improved going forward.