Breaking News
More () »

Murder charge filed after nurses seen on camera laughing as veteran gasps for breath

Charges came after an 11Alive investigation revealed a hidden camera that captured the moments leading to his death.

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- A grand jury has indicted two nurses and an aide on numerous charges, including felony murder in one case, in the death of an elderly patient who slowly died in front of them.

In November, the Brookhaven Police Department launched a criminal investigation into 89-year-old James Dempsey’s death after an 11Alive Investigation uncovered hidden camera video and court depositions of nursing home staff who responded to the World War II veteran.

It happened at Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation in 2014. 11Alive obtained both videos in 2017 through public records requests after the family filed a lawsuit.

The video showed Dempsey repeatedly calling out for help as he suffered in respiratory distress. After his calls, Dempsey became unresponsive.

READ | Hidden camera tells true story of how veteran died after calling for help, gasping for air

On Wednesday, charges were announced.

Former nurse Loyce Pickquet Agyeman, of Snellville, Georgia is charged with felony murder and neglect to an elder person.

PHOTOS: How a senior care facility failed Mr. Dempsey (story continues below)

Wanda Nuckles of Buford, also a former nurse, is charged with depriving an elder person of essential Services, while Mable Turman, a certified nurse assistant from College Park, is charged with neglect to an elder person.

All three women were also indicted on a single count of concealing the death of another in the five-count indictment returned by grand jurors Tuesday afternoon.

RELATED: 3 nursing staff were seen ignoring the veteran's cries. This is why one is charged with murder

In the video deposition, Nuckles originally told Dempsey family attorney Mike Prieto that she rushed to Dempsey's room when a nurse told her that he had stopped breathing.

Prieto: “From the time you came in, you took over doing chest compressions…correct?”

Nuckles : “Yes.”

Prieto: “Until the time paramedics arrive, you were giving CPR continuously?”

Nuckles : “Yes.”

The video, however, shows no one doing CPR when Nuckles entered the room. She also did not immediately start doing CPR.

“Sir, that was an honest mistake,” said Nuckles in the deposition. “I was just basing everything on what I normally do.”

The video shows the veteran calling for help six times before he goes unconscious while gasping for air. State records show nursing home staff found Dempsey unresponsive at 5:28 am. It took almost an hour for the staff to call 911 at 6:25a.m.

ANOTHER INVESTIGATION: Army veteran freezes to death after being released from VA hospital

When a different nurse does respond, she fails to check any of his vital signs. Nuckles says she would have reprimanded the nurse for the way she responded to Dempsey. She called the video “sick.”

When nurses had difficulty getting Dempsey's oxygen machine operational during, you can hear Nuckles and others laughing.

The nursing facility was made aware of the video in November 2015, but according to state inspection reports, the nursing home did not fire the nurses until 10 months later.

According to the Georgia Board of Nursing, Nuckles and another nurse seen in the video surrendered their licenses in September 2017 – about three years after the incident.

READ | Nursing assistant: We asked for more staff before WWII vet begged for help and died

After the indictment, warrants were issued for the arrest of Agyeman, Nuckles and Turman. Weeks ago, Brookhaven Police Brandon Gurley said 11Alive’s story was key to re-opening the investigation.

“It was very instrumental…because there was information in the news report that you guys aired that our detectives had not seen yet,” said Gurley.

The case will be prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Elder Abuse and Exploitation Unit. A trial date has not been set.

CHECK NURSING HOMES: Click here to see nursing home inspection reports

Do you have a story you want to tell? Contact 11Alive Investigator Andy Pierotti.

Before You Leave, Check This Out