Less than two weeks after an unarmed patient at a Houston, Texas hospital was shot in the chest by an off-duty cop, that patient was standing before a judge being arraigned on charges of assaulting that officer.
Alan Pean was shot by a cop who was working as a security guard at St. Joseph's Medical Center the day after Pean was admitted for treatment. The police are describing Pean as "combative" that night, saying the officer feared for his and his partner's safety.
Pean's family is telling another story, one of a young man who was suffering a mental health crisis at a hospital that horribly mismanaged the situation.
Here's part of an official statement from the police department on what happened after security was called to Pean's room (via Raw Story):
Once the officers arrived, the patient continued to refuse to comply with the nurses and officers’ demands. The patient suddenly physically assaulted Officer Ortega, striking him in the head, causing a laceration. At that time, Officer Law deployed his conducted energy device, which had no apparent effect on the suspect who continued to assault the officers. Officer Ortega, fearing for his and his partner’s safety, then discharged his duty weapon, striking the suspect one time.
But through an online petition that has received thousands of signatures and the support of medical professionals, Pean's supporters are condemning the way he was shot while seeking help as a patient suffering a mental health episode.
"Personally, we stand in outrage for every time he is referred to as ‘combative’ without sub-clause or context, we stand in outrage for every time he is called a ‘suspect’ instead of a patient, we stand in outrage for every time he, one empty-handed, help-seeking man, is painted as a threat to two officers, able-bodied and armed, in a hospital. "
Here's what we know happened, via local news reports from TV station KHOU:
Pean drove himself to the hospital during an "acute mental crisis" involving severe anxiety, as the petition calls it, and crashed his car when he arrived. He was admitted so that he could be treated for injuries, but when Pean's parents arrived and found their son acting unusual, they repeatedly asked for a mental health evaluation, they say.
Pean's shooting happened shortly after the hospital had cleared him to be released, which his family says was nothing short of negligent.
"They communicated their observations with the personnel and implored hospital personnel to obtain a psychiatric evaluation. At the very least, as the patient’s surrogate decision makers, they desired to speak with Alan’s physician. Both requests were denied.," the petition says of Pean's parents.
St Joseph’s personnel communicated that they would, instead of integrating crucial corroborative [evidence] provided by Alan’s parents (one who is a board-certified physician in his own right), discharge the patient against his and his family’s wishes. While assessing a previously unknown patient’s mental status can be difficult, one of its most crucial, clinically sound aspects is the corroboration of evidence by friends and family. ... Both are undeniable acts of medical negligence.
Pean posted this photo and caption to Facebook today.
"Two weeks ago near this very moment, a single shot rang out in Houston, TX and I fell suddenly, losing consciousness and coughing up blood, onto the hospital room floor. I was completely exposed and afraid. This could just as easily have been a picture of my coffin being lowered into the ground. #neveragain #WC4BL #MedicineNotBullets"