A 74-year-old patient who died two days after being restrained by security guards at a Northwest Washington hospital suffered a broken vertebra near the base of his neck, according to D.C. police documents obtained by The Washington Post.
A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said Tuesday that a cause of death is pending the completion of an autopsy. Police identified the man as James E. McBride of Northwest Washington.
Family members could not be reached Tuesday, but they issued a statement through the hospital that described McBride as “a loving husband to his wife of 40 years, and a wonderful father to his son and daughter.”
“The family is deeply saddened by his loss and they will miss him,” the statement said.
McBride’s death Thursday at MedStar Washington Hospital Center is being investigated by D.C. police. The police documents do not elaborate on what type of force was used to subdue McBride or how the neck injury occurred.
The security guards — ages 42 and 29 — are special police officers, meaning they are qualified to carry firearms and have arrest powers limited to the area of their jurisdiction, in this case the grounds of the hospital campus on Irving Street NW. They are licensed through the D.C. police. Neither could be reached for comment.
D.C. Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham said the department is investigating and will turn over its findings to the U.S. attorney’s office to determine whether prosecution is warranted. The two guards have been placed on administrative leave.
“We will get all the facts and information together,” Newsham said. He declined to comment on the neck injury, saying that “it would be inappropriate to make any conclusions at this time.”
Hospital officials said McBride left the hospital without signing out and got into a scuffle with security guards as they were trying to bring him back. The officials would not say why McBride was at the hospital.
Officials at the hospital on Monday would not describe McBride’s injuries. They declined Tuesday to comment on the police documents.
The incident began about 5 p.m. Sept. 29 when McBride left the hospital, hospital officials said. The patient’s nurse and a security guard found him across the street, near MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital. The account provided says that the nurse and guard walked the man back to the hospital grounds and turned him over to two other security guards.
A police report made public Monday said the patient and guards were still outside the hospital when McBride “became non-compliant and resisted and a struggle ensued.” According to that report, McBride “was taken to the ground” by two of the people and a third “utilized hand controls to restrain” him.
Arthur St. André, a surgical care specialist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, told reporters that the patient died after an “interaction that was physical between the patient and the officers.”
An earlier statement from the hospital said the patient had been “critically injured during an altercation with two of our security officers.”
Justin Jouvenal and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.