March 28, 2018

Active Hospital Shooter: Bodycam Video Shows Police Shooting Armed Patient

Active Hospital Shooter: Bodycam Video Shows Police Shooting Armed Patient
Angelina Walker
By: Angelina Walker Director of Nursing Content and Social Media

WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT: This video contains violent content that may be offensive to some viewers - viewer discretion advised. 

HUNTERSVILLE, NC -- "How in the world did he get a gun in a hospital?" an officer is heard saying after fatally shooting an armed patient at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center in Huntersville, NC. 

The police bodycam footage was released on Monday by Huntersville Police Department - the incident occurred in September 2017. It shows Police Officers, Michael Joseph and Travis Watts, searching for the patient, James Charles Cook throughout the hospital. Cook was seen on security footage roaming the halls in his hospital gown holding a gun. 

According to the District Attorney’s report, a nurse witnessed Cook remove a gun from his suitcase. Cook allegedly fired a gunshot while the nurse was returning to his room with an unarmed security guard. The report states that the two witnesses watched Cook exit his room holding a gun. The hospital was placed on lockdown and the police were called to the incident. 

Police officers located Cook at the nurse’s station and can be heard in the video yelling, “show me your hands! Show me your hands! Do it now!" A few seconds later someone says, “got a gun!” and the police open fire on the elderly man. 

The District Attorney’s report states that in an interview with the State Bureau of Investigations officials, both officers stated that cook pointed the gun at them first. 

James Cook was a 76-year-old hurricane Irma evacuee at the time, it is unclear why he was hospitalized. 

A Spokesperson for Novant Health issued the following statement on the incident:

“We can confirm there was a shooting at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center resulting in the death of an individual. Without a doubt, this is a tragic situation.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the loved ones of this individual and also to our team members and patients who were in the area when shots were fired. We are thankful for the quick response of the Huntersville Police Department who came to ensure the safety of our patients and team members.

At Novant Health the safety of our patients and team members is at the forefront of everything that we do. We have plans and processes in place to respond to emergencies at our facilities, including on-site security.  The emergency procedures were followed at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center today. Our team did everything they were trained to do to de-escalate a volatile situation and keep our patients, their families and friends, and Novant Health team members safe.

This is the type of situation that we hope will never occur, but why we train on a regular basis. Our all-hazards approach includes training and drills for things such as severe weather, fire, acts of violence, and response to mass casualty incidents. For example, in the past week, our team prepped for the potential impact of Irma and stands ready to assist in the aftermath if needed.”

No Charges Against Police Officers 

District Attorney Spencer Merriweather said in December that the police officers were legally justified with the use of deadly force in this incident. 

Merriweather stated in a report to Huntersville Police Chief Cleveland Spruill, “in this case, the officers were responding to an active shooter in a hospital. When they encountered the subject, Cook pointed a gun at a police officer. Under these circumstances, I have determined that these officers acted within the bounds of the law, and no charges will be sought against them.”

Violence Within Hospitals reports that violent injuries in the healthcare industry accounted for almost as many violent injuries as all other industries combined -- even more than police officers and prison guards. 

Approximately 1 in 4 nurses have reported being physically assaulted on the job within the past year. 

Changes are underway - on July 19, 2017, the House-Senate Public Safety Committee approved Elise’s Law requiring health care employers to implement workplace violence prevention plans. Furthermore, the bill requires employers to give injured employees paid time off while dealing with legal issues. 

Security alerts are, unfortunately, common in hospitals. Gun incidents within hospitals are extremely rare. The officer can be heard in the video stating, “how in the world did he get a gun in a hospital?” - that question remains unanswered.

Have you ever seen a metal detector in a hospital? 


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