Video: Nurses charged with murder for laughing at dying WWII vet
The video shows nurses failing to help administer aid to James Dempsey as he pleaded for help and laughing as they struggled to get his oxygen machine to work
By Matt Zarrell
New York Daily News
ATLANTA — Two Georgia nurses and an aide have been indicted in the death of an elderly World War II veteran after they were caught on camera laughing as the man gasped for air and pleaded for help.
Authorities launched a criminal investigation in November after details and video were obtained by WXIA. The information was originally included as part of a lawsuit filed by the family of James Dempsey against Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation Center.
The video, which was taken February 27, 2014, showed Dempsey gasping for air and calling for help more than six times before losing consciousness.
After finding Dempsey unresponsive at 5:28 a.m., nurses waited nearly an hour to call 911 at 6:25 a.m.
During that hour, video shows nurses failing to help administer aid to Dempsey and laughing as they struggled to get his oxygen machine to work, the outlet reports.
Nursing supervisor Wanda Nuckles testified at a deposition that when she discovered Dempsey was not breathing she rushed to his room, took over CPR and kept going until the paramedics arrived.
Nuckles was then confronted with the hidden camera video that shows she did nothing when she first arrived at Dempsey's room.
"Sir, that was an honest mistake," Nuckles said in the deposition obtained by WXIA, "I was just basing everything on what I normally do."
When asked why she was laughing about the oxygen machine not working, she told the family's attorney she did not remember that.
The nursing home tried to stop WXIA from getting and releasing the videos but a DeKalb County judge refused to seal the footage
After WXIA went public, Brookhaven Police launched an investigation, which led to a grand jury handing down indictments Wednesday against two nurses and an aide, the outlet reports.
Loyce Pickquet Agyeman is charged with felony murder and neglect to an elder person.
Wanda Nuckles, nursing supervisor, is charged with depriving an elderly person of essential services.
Mable Turman, nurse assistant, is charged with neglect to an elder person.
All three were also indicted on a single count of concealing the death of another.
Warrants have been issued for the arrests of all three.
While the nursing home was made aware of the video in 2015, it took another 10 months before they fired the nurses involved in the death.
Nuckles and Agyeman did not surrender their nursing licenses until last September, when the video was sent to the Georgia Board of Nursing, according to WXIA.
The nursing home - which declined to comment on the charges - has continued to have problems following the patient's death.
They have been fined $813,000 from Medicare in the last two years and received Medicare's lowest score after the latest inspection report last May, WXIA reports.
A spokesperson for the nursing home, owned by Sava Senior Care, in a statement wrote they were "saddened by the events which occurred three years ago" before going on to note it has "new leadership and the leadership team and the staff have worked very diligently to improve quality care and the quality of life for our residents."
Dempsey's family has not commented on the incident, citing a settlement with the nursing home.
The case will be prosecuted by the District Attorney's Elder Abuse and Exploitation Unit.
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