A psychiatric patient shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy inside Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in October has died, authorities confirmed Tuesday.
Nicholas Burgos, 38, died the evening of Nov. 1 in the intensive care unit at the hospital in West Carson, where the Sheriff’s Department said an officer assigned to watch a wounded deputy being treated onsite shot the civilian seven times on Oct. 6.
The officers had heard banging and screaming from a different room, Lt. Derrick Alfred said, the Los Angeles Times reported. They found Burgos, who was in a hospital gown, using a steel-encased compression device to smash a window, according to the lieutenant.
One of the officers was helping medical staffers move patients when Burgos “turned his attention on the deputy,” said an Oct. 7 statement from the Sheriff’s Department.
That’s when the officer opened fire, according to the agency.
Burgos was struck by gunfire and remained in critical condition until his death. Nobody else suffered any injuries.
The incident on Oct. 13 prompted a group of health care workers and activists to rally outside Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where another patient was fatally shot by LAPD in 2015, to protest law enforcement violence in hospitals.
At a news conference the next day, Sheriff Alex Villanueva was asked why the officer took deadly action while medical staffers were on their way.
“That deputy was about a second or two away from getting beaned in the head with that,” Villanueva responded. “I’m not sure how long you want her to wait for people to gather together on the first floor of the hospital, get a plan together and go up to the fourth floor to intervene.”
Harbor-UCLA Medical Center officials said they’re reviewing the incident, which also remains under investigation by authorities.
In an Oct. 16 statement, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anish Mahajan said the hospital has a qualified team that responds to such incidents within minutes.
“Behavioral events such as these involving appropriately trained personnel rarely result in law enforcement involvement and when they are called upon, have never resulted in the shooting of a patient at Harbor-UCLA,” Mahajan said.
After his death, Burgos’ family told LAist that the incident left the 38-year-old unable to speak and that they never heard his side of the story.
Burgos struggled with substance abuse and mental health issues for which he sought treatment, family members told the website. He had a young son and a girlfriend, LAist reported.
“It takes courage … to actually step up and say ‘I need help,'” his brother Benjamin Burgos said.