A patient who was allegedly swinging a metal medical device at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center was in critical condition after being shot Tuesday night by a sheriff’s deputy, officials said.
The patient, a man 30 to 40 years old who has not been identified, was using the metal device to break the window of a room containing two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and another patient, said Sheriff’s Lt. Derrick Alfred. One of the deputies then shot him.
Alfred said the device was “about the size of a shoebox but metal — all metal.”
The patient, who was in the hospital being treated for injuries, became “agitated” at around 11:15 p.m. and attempted to break through the door of his room with the metal device, Alfred said.
The two deputies were guarding the other patient’s room, and one of them came to investigate the commotion. She made sure the agitated patient’s roommate was safe, then retreated to the first room, Alfred said.
The agitated patient followed her and began smashing the window with the metal device, according to Alfred’s account.
“The deputy, trying to de-escalate the situation, backed into a room [and] shut the door,” Alfred said. “Then the guy took to smashing the room.”
It was not clear which of the deputies shot the patient. Alfred said of the metal device: “I wouldn’t want to get hit with it.”
In a news release, the Sheriff’s Department said only that the patient “turned his attention on the deputy.”
No other patients, medical staff or deputies were injured, but Alfred said the area was heavily damaged.
The hospital gave a similar account, saying the patient “became agitated” and tried to enter a neighboring patient’s room.
“The patient became aggressive and was subsequently shot by the deputies,” the hospital’s communications manager, LaVasha Floyd, said in a statement.
Anish Mahajan, acting CEO and chief medical officer for Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, said in an email that the man was “shot by law enforcement in response to an attack on another patient.”
Hospital workers immediately began treating the man after the deputy shot him.
“I want to thank the staff caring for the patients in the area where this occurred for their swift response to care for the patient who had been shot and to ensure the physical and psychological safety of the other patients and each other on the unit,” Mahajan wrote in an email to staff members.
In another law enforcement shooting at Harbor-UCLA five years ago, a Los Angeles police officer fatally shot a mentally ill patient, Ruben Herrera. Authorities said Herrera, 26, attacked officers and reached for their guns.
The officers knew that Herrera had bipolar disorder, and there were no fingerprints on the officers’ guns, said an attorney for Herrera’s parents, who won $3.5 million in a lawsuit against the city.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.