There's a lot happening in the news today, but I'd like to start off by shedding light on a disturbing example of neglect at a VA Hospital right in our own backyard.
Unfortunately this is nothing new, we've heard about fake waiting lists and negligent employees at VA Hospitals for years. It's safe to assume this sort of thing has been happening since the Vietnam War (maybe longer).
But this example hits pretty close to home (literally); because it happened right in the heart of Louisiana.
An Alexandria VA Hospital employee was charged and convicted for negligent homicide of a patient. That in and of its self is pretty upsetting, but here is where it gets crazy: his punishment was a $1,000 fine and probation. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, that’s barely a slap on the wrist for killing one of America’s heroes.
Here's the fully story: Frederick Harris, a nursing home assistant at the Alexandria VA, was originally charged with negligent homicide for the 2013 death of a patient, 70-yr-old Charles Johnson.
During the opening arguments for his case, Harris changed his plea to no contest at the last minute. Just as opening arguments were about to begin in his bench trial in Rapides Parish, Louisiana, his charges of manslaughter were dismissed and the court replaced them with a charge of negligent homicide.
This could have given him a punishment of up to five years in prison and a $5000 fine, but instead he got a short lecture from the Judge Harry Randow and a free pass to easy street.
The Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office claims there was plenty of evidence to convict Harris for physically fighting with Johnson after the victim asked the nurse for some medication.
Harris claims Johnson was being aggressive. More than one individual on the scene at the time of the incident disputes those claims.
A Grant Parish Coroner who conducted the autopsy found Johnson died from blunt force trauma to the head. Despite being told otherwise, Johnson's family seriously doubts his injuries came from an accidental fall.
Johnson's sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Don Burkes, claim someone from the VA hospital called them to say Johnson was injured in a fall before being transferred to another hospital in Alexandria.
Brian Mosley, the prosecutor for the case, tells the story of how the events that brought these charges against Harris originally unfolded, "He put his arms around Mr. Johnson. They struggled and Mr. Johnson was thrown against the wall or the floor and sustained a serious head injury. He was released and admitted to a nursing home and later died as a result of the injury."
There were two witnesses ready to testify on Johnson's behalf. It didn't look good for Harris. But then, after the hard arm of the law made a ruling, what seemed like a completely obvious crime against humanity was virtually dismissed as if it was an irrelevant offense.
So why such a light sentence for such a serious crime? How could someone accused of killing a man in a VA hospital only be punished with what seems like the equivalent of a serious driving infraction?
The answer to that question probably won’t please you. A Code of Criminal Procedure called Article 893 allows a person who was never been previously convicted of a crime to enter a plea of guilty and have their sentence greatly reduced to something probationary. Also, in the state of Louisiana Negligent homicide is not considered a violent crime.
The truth is, this was just one of a countless number of incidents in the United States where in an employee at a VA Hospital treated a veteran with the utmost disrespect.
A 70-yr-old Air Force veteran has given a great deal to his country. The nurse who mistreated him very likely hasn't. Employees at government run medical facilities have little to no accountability for their actions. It's hard to fire a negligent employee when they work for the government. It’s even harder to fire them when they work for the Federal government. This is typical not only for government run hospitals, but anyone working at virtually any Federal department or office anywhere. If the Left had it their way, everyone in America would go to a government run hospital.