Two former security guards at MedStar Washington Hospital Center were indicted Tuesday on charges of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 74-year-old patient outside the hospital last fall.
Officers Clifton Montgomery, 30, of Bladensburg, and Charles Brown, 43, of Fort Washington, face a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted, the U.S. attorney’s office said Tuesday. They were indicted by a grand jury in D.C. Superior Court.
On Sept. 29, James E. McBride suffered a broken vertebra near the base of his neck during an altercation with Montgomery and Brown, who confronted him after he walked out of the hospital without being discharged, according to D.C. police documents. He died Oct. 1.
McBride’s nurse and a security guard found him across the street, near MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital, hospital officials said after an investigation. The nurse and guard walked the man back to the hospital’s grounds and turned him over to two other security guards.
Montgomery and Brown, who were qualified to carry firearms and have arrest powers, were trying to restrain McBride and take him back into the hospital when he was injured, MedStar officials have said.
A police report said that McBride “became non-compliant and resisted and a struggle ensued.”
It remains unclear why McBride, of Northwest Washington, had left the hospital without authorization. He died Oct. 1 of blunt-force injuries to the neck, spinal cord and vertebrae.
David Schertler, an attorney for Montgomery, said the officer’s response was “reasonable and appropriate . . . under the circumstances.”
“My client did not commit any crime,” he said.
Calls to Brown’s attorney were not immediately returned.
Hospital spokeswoman So Young Pak said the two officers were removed from their jobs in November. Pak said the hospital has undergone a “thorough evaluation of the event to identify ways to improve in order to prevent such an occurrence in the future” and is working to improve communication involving doctors, nurses and security.
Hospital officials previously said that there were changes in the training of caregivers and security officers and that a new team to respond to “high-risk” situations was created.
McBride’s family has not spoken publicly about the events surrounding his death, and relatives could not be reached Tuesday. Instead, family members have released statements through the hospital.
On Tuesday, for the first time, the hospital said it had reached an “agreement for a settlement” with the family. Officials would not provide details, and a call to the family’s attorney was not immediately returned.
In a statement, the hospital said its staff was “devastated” by McBride’s death and was determined to prevent similar incidents.
“While nothing can change the family’s loss, we are committed to ensuring that these improvements will honor Mr. McBride’s legacy and will enhance our service to all patients who turn to us for care,” the statement said.
Brown and Montgomery have not been taken into custody or scheduled for initial court appearances.