- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Three caretakers at the Norman state veterans center have been fired after being accused of abusing an 85-year-old resident with dementia.

The resident, Korean War veteran James William Laughlin, died on Oct. 15 - less than two days after veterans center cameras captured images of three staff members dragging him across a room and tossing him onto a couch, The Oklahoman reported Sunday (https://bit.ly/1HkLmWX ). The actions occurred after Laughlin entered another resident’s room and became involved in a physical altercation.

One of the caretakers later restrained Laughlin by sitting on him for about four minutes, according to a discharge notice obtained by The Oklahoman through the state Open Records Act.

Laughlin died at Norman Regional Hospital from an acute right subdural bleed caused by blunt force trauma to the head, according to the state medical examiner’s report.

The medical examiner was unable to determine whether the death was a homicide and listed the manner of death as “unknown.”

Officials believe Laughlin suffered the fatal wound by falling while alone in his room after the earlier incidents and not from the fight with the other resident or his physical handling by staff members, said John McReynolds, executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.

Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn said prosecutors have viewed the video. He said no final decision on charges will be made until they meet again with an investigator for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mashburn said prosecutors are most concerned about whether there was a delay in getting Laughlin medical attention after he fell in his room.

The initial report the center filed with the state Health Department contained false information because some staff members failed to tell the truth, said Terry Wilkerson, administrator of the Norman veterans center.

Wilkerson said an amended report was prepared after agency officials reviewed the video and saw what really happened.


Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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