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Care providers protest police violence in hospitals after Harbor-UCLA shooting

L.A. County Sheriff's deputies gathered outside Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
L.A. County sheriff’s deputies meet outside Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where multiple investigations are underway into a patient who was shot by a deputy last week. (KTLA-TV)

A group of care providers and activists gathered outside Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on Tuesday evening to protest police violence in hospitals after a patient was shot there last week by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy.

“Hospitals are a place where we should be getting care,” said Mark-Anthony Clayton-Johnson, founder of the Frontline Wellness Network, a coalition of care providers working to end mass incarceration. “In that context, there should never be a reason why a law enforcement officer should use lethal force, such as a gun, on our folks.”

Clayton-Johnson, who does not work at the hospital but was scheduled to speak at Tuesday’s event, added: “Sheriffs shouldn’t have any place responding to crises in our hospitals when trained providers are better equipped to save lives.”

Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer for the hospital, said in a statement Tuesday that the patient was experiencing a psychiatric crisis on Oct. 6 when he was shot by a deputy assigned to South L.A. station who was not a member of the sheriff’s unit at Harbor-UCLA. The patient, a man 30 to 40 years-old, has not been identified.

The deputy “was on-site to provide security services for another hospitalized patient who was in an adjacent room,” Mahajan said. “Multiple investigations are underway within and outside the hospital about how and why this incident occurred.”

Meanwhile , he said, hospital leaders “will review best practices on how to provide security services that optimally protect the health and safety of patients, visitors, and staff.”

Sheriff’s Lt. Derrick Alfred said last week that the patient was using a metal device to break the window of the room where two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were with another patient. One of the deputies then shot him.

Alfred said the device was “about the size of a shoebox but metal — all metal.”

In a news release, the Sheriff’s Department said that the patient “turned his attention on the deputy” before he was shot.

Some speakers at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting called for the removal of law enforcement from hospitals. Last week’s shooting at Harbor-UCLA was the second there in five years.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva responded: “It was a scene out of ‘The Shining’ with Jack Nicholson,” he said of the shooting. “We’re gonna give all the details tomorrow so you can make a decision for yourself on the wisdom of having law enforcement in hospitals.”

Times staff writer Faith E. Pinho contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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