Georgia nursing home staffers charged in death of WWII veteran

By Susan McFarland  |  Feb. 23, 2018 at 2:59 PM
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Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A video showing nurses laughing as a U.S. military veteran gasps for breath led to the indictment of three staff members at a Georgia senior-care facility.

According to the indictment, returned Tuesday by a DeKalb County grand jury, the staff members not only caused the resident's death, but tried to cover it up.

James Dempsey, 89, of Woodstock, Ga., was a World War II Navy veteran. Those charged in connection to his 2014 death are former nurses Wanda Nuckles and Loyce Pickquet Agyeman and aide Mable Turner.

Dempsey entered the Northeast Atlanta Rehabilitation Center in Brookhaven, Ga., a month before he died. He'd been having liver problems and received dialysis treatment at the center, according to a family statement to police.

The family said they'd installed a hidden camera in Dempsey's room after he voiced concerns about staying there overnight.

"Video surveillance shows the patient suffering in respiratory distress and repeatedly calling out for help. Soon after his distress calls, the victim became unresponsive," DeKalb County District Attorney's Office said in a statement Wednesday. "The indictment alleges the Defendants, in varying degrees, failed to provide timely and necessary medical assistance, ultimately resulting in Mr. Dempsey's death."

The video was made public in November after the family filed a civil lawsuit against the center, which was ultimately settled, but the footage prompted a joint investigation between the DA's office and local authorities.

A deposition video revealed during the civil suit shows Dempsey lying in his hospital bed, gasping for air and calling for help six times.

The video footage shows the nurses failing to take life-saving measures while trying to start an oxygen machine. WXIA-TV also reported that video depositions in which the nurses changed their stories.

Nuckles is charged with depriving an elder person of essential services. Turman is charged with neglect to an elder person. Agyeman is charged with felony murder and neglect to an elder person. All three also face charges of concealing the death.

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