Recently released video shows a World War II veteran dying as nurses appear to laugh at his cries for help.
In the video, James Dempsey calls out to staff members at Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation before slipping into unconsciousness.
His voice cracked and plaintive, those pleas go unheeded and all the while, he struggles and gasps for air.
When the nurses finally do arrive, they don’t seem remotely capable of operating Dempsey’s oxygen machine. Instead of expressing frustration, however, one of the nurses just seems to laugh. Supervisor, Wanda Nuckles, appears to laugh as well.
During a 2014 trial, Nuckles testified that she rushed to help the 89-year-old veteran as soon as she learned that his breathing had stopped. According to her testimony at the time, she began to perform chest compressions and didn’t stop until additional help arrived.
The video, however, shows that chest compressions are performed on Dempsey only sporadically and lackadaisically. At trial, Nuckles attributed her patient’s death to “an honest mistake.”
Mike Prieto, an attorney for Dempsey’s family, asks the following question to Nuckles during the deposition, “Ma’am was there something funny at the time?” To which she responds, “I can’t even remember all that, as you can see.”
Nuckles and another nurse were eventually fired over the incident–almost a year later. The Georgia Board of Nursing revoked both nurses’ licenses in September of this year after receiving a link to the video of Dempsey’s death.
The video was first obtained by Law & Crime editor Rachel Stockman when she worked as an ABC reporter in Atlanta in 2015. The local NBC affiliate, WXIA, recently released the video to the public.
The nursing home had sued to bar the video’s release but ultimately dropped their appeal with the Georgia State Supreme Court earlier this year.
The Dempsey family did not comment due to a settlement agreement reached with the nursing home.
[image via screengrab; video courtesy WXIA]