Patient shot by sheriff’s deputy inside Harbor UCLA hospital dies
A patient at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center has died from wounds he suffered when he was shot last month by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy.
Nicholas Burgos Jr., 38, who was shot seven times, died on Nov. 1, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
Burgos was a patient at the hospital on Oct. 6, when he allegedly became enraged for an unknown reason. The shooting occured after Burgos shattered a window with a heavy, steel medical device, then attempted to force his way into a nearby room, where deputies were watching over an injured deputy who had been admitted to the hospital.
The deadly incident marked the second time in recent years that police have opened fire inside Harbor-UCLA. In the wake of the shooting, hospital staff have publicly expressed outrage that more was not done to de-escalate the situation before deadly force was used.
In addition to ongoing investigations by the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office, the county’s Board of Supervisors has directed the Office of the Inspector General to examine the shooting. The board has also asked county attorneys to draw up options for restricting the presence of law enforcement officers in county hospitals or requiring deputies to receive additional training.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva has defended the deputy’s actions, saying she was “about a second or two away from getting beaned in the head’’ with the object Burgos was wielding. . He said it was unreasonable to expect the deputy could wait for hospital staff specially trained in restraining violent patients to respond.
“I’m not sure how long you want her to wait for people to gather together on the first floor of the hospital and get a plan together and go up to the fourth floor to intervene,” he said. “No. I wouldn’t expect anybody to wait under those circumstances.”
The deputy who opened fire has not been identified publicly. She is assigned to the department’s South L.A. station and is not a member of a sheriff’s unit attached to Harbor-UCLA, according to Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer for the hospital.
Sheriff’s Homicide Lt. Derrick Alfred said two deputies were inside a hospital room guarding a wounded deputy about 11:15 p.m. when they heard banging and screams.
One of the deputies left the room and walked down the hallway to investigate, Alfred said. A few rooms down, she encountered Burgos, who was in a hospital gown and attempting to smash a window with a 6.5-pound medical device encased in steel, Alfred said.
The deputy directed hospital staff to clear other patients from the room, and an announcement was broadcast over the hospital speaker system summoning a special crisis team, Alfred said. The deputy went back to the room of the wounded deputy and closed the door, he said.
Shortly after, Alfred said, a window on the door to the deputy’s room shattered and the deputies saw the patient holding the device over his head. Burgos then struck the door and attempted to enter swinging the device. A deputy blocked the man from entering and ordered him to put the object down, according to Alfred.
As the man lunged forward with the device over his head, one of the deputies fired nine times, , Alfred said. With no security cameras in patient rooms and the deputies not wearing body cameras, there is no video of the shooting, Alfred said.
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