Attorneys representing two nurses and a nurse’s husband called a press conference to counter official statements that nurses taken hostage at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital were not injured in a May 13 incident in which a jail inmate was shot dead by a SWAT team.
“In fact, one of the nurses was repeatedly beaten; she was tortured; she was raped,” attorney Sean Murray stated at the press conference, which was held in Chicago on May 25.
And yet, while the correctional officer allegedly ran and hid after the inmate got his gun, Murray credited one of the hostage nurses as a hero whose brave and thoughtful actions likely saved the lives of other hospital employees.
Murray and Lindsay Scheidt, of the law firm Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit naming Kane County, jail correctional officer Shawn Loomis, and Apex3 Security LLC, the hospital’s security firm, as defendants.
The lawsuit alleged they all failed in their duty to protect the hospital employees from a dangerous jail inmate and seeks unstated compensation for medical care and other costs.
The lawsuit also charges that the nurses had a 14th Amendment right to be protected from state-created danger, particularly in that the inmate, Tywon M. Salters, 21, of Chicago, should have been guarded by two corrections officers, not one, as was the case.
“I have been asked to file this lawsuit to enact change within the Kane County Sheriff’s Department,” the law firm’s press release stated.
“The conduct that led up to this occurrence is unacceptable,” the release stated. “Those who are responsible should be held accountable, and policies and procedures must be reviewed and changed. We are doing this so this type of thing doesn’t happen to anyone else and so that hospital staff can feel safe returning to work.”
Kane County Sheriff's Office spokesman Pat Gengler referred all questions about the incident to the Kane County State’s Attorney Office.
Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said the office does not comment on pending litigation or pending investigations.
The petitioners are identified only as Jane Doe I, Jane Doe II and John Doe, according to the lawsuit.
“For 3 1/2 hours, the nurse was held hostage … a gun was continuously held to her head the entire time; she was told she was going to die; she was repeatedly beaten; she was mentally and physically abused,” stated the release.
When the SWAT team charged the room and fatally shot Salters, the same bullet that killed him also struck the second nurse hostage in the arm, the release stated.
“There also was a pattern of conduct of the officers who were supposed to be guarding the inmate that directly led to this incident occurring,” Murray said at the press conference.
Salters was known as a career felon on suicide watch, as he had tried to harm himself twice to get out of jail – first by drinking peroxide, then by eating a plastic jail-issued sandal, according to the lawsuit.
He was admitted to Delnor on May 8 to have the sandal surgically removed from his stomach and was still recovering on May 13.
“He had demonstrated a pattern of manipulative and deceptive behavior. He had also been combative,” Murray said. “With all of these different things going on, that should have triggered some sort of heightened protocol within the Kane County Sheriff's system while detaining Mr. Salters at the hospital. However, the opposite happened.”
Murray and the lawsuit stated that on May 9, a guard was found sleeping on a couch while guarding Salters.
“Guards were repeatedly seen using their personal cellphones and laptops or watching TV,” Murray and the lawsuit stated.
Salters was supposed to remain shackled at all times while at Delnor, but the law firm’s investigation showed that he was unshackled every time he complained that he had to use the restroom, Murray said.
The day of the hostage-taking, Salters was again unshackled to use the restroom, and the guard left him unrestrained for as long as 30 minutes or longer, Murray said.
“During that time, he was not cuffed; he was not restrained in any manner whatsoever,” Murray said.
“At some point, Mr. Salters made a move on the guard, and he took his 9 mm handgun and he left the room,” Murray said. “After that, the guard left the room, ran down the hallway into another hospital room and possibly hid behind a hospital bed.”
The guard was identified in the lawsuit as Shawn Loomis.
“We know that guard made a phone call. However our investigation has shown beyond that phone call, there was no other action taken on his behalf to help the hospital staff and hospital nurses who were walking the hallways at that time,” Murray said.
Meanwhile, Salters, “was naked; he [was] walking down the hallway with a gun," Murray said.
“He went into a nurse’s office and took and demanded that she take off her clothes so he could put them on,” Murray said. “He took her car keys and cellphone. He physically restrained her, and he held her at gunpoint and threatened her. This went on for several minutes.”
At some point, a second nurse came into the room, and Salters released the first nurse and took the second nurse hostage, Murray said.
“The second nurse was nothing short of a hero,” Murray said.
“She convinced Mr. Salters to let her use the phone; she used the phone to call downstairs to warn other hospital employees of what was going on,” Murray said. “She warned them that he had a gun. She warned other hospital employees that he was threatening to shoot. She called a code that triggered procedures in the hospital so others would be aware what was going on.”
The second nurse led Salters from the third floor to the first floor to an area called a decontamination room, where she believed no other employees would be and so they would be safe, Murray and the lawsuit stated.
“Her actions that day likely led to many other hospital employees not being harmed or being killed,” Murray said.
The morning of the May 13 hostage incident, a nurse saw the correctional officer sitting in a recliner and using his personal laptop while he was supposed to be guarding Salters, the lawsuit alleged.
This correctional officer was replaced by Loomis, who removed Salters’ leg shackle at noon so he could go to the restroom, violating the county’s policy that Salters be restrained at all times, the lawsuit alleged.
When Salters returned to his hospital bed, Loomis did not shackle or restrain him in the hospital bed, instead deferring to Salters’ statement that he may have to use the restroom again, the lawsuit stated.
Loomis sat on the couch while Salters sat on his bed with nothing between Salters and the door to the hospital room, the lawsuit stated.
A nurse entering the room saw Salters unshackled and asked Loomis why, but the corrections officer did not respond, the lawsuit stated.
At approximately 12:30 p.m., Salters took the handgun from the corrections officer, who then fled and ran into room 3670 and shut the door, also a violation of the county’s policy and procedures, the lawsuit stated.
Loomis also violated the county’s policies when he took no action to protect hospital staff or nurses after he lost both his gun and control of Salters, the lawsuit stated.
The lawsuit also cites Illinois Common Law of willful and wanton conduct on the part of Kane County and the hospital’s security firm by allowing Salters to be unshackled and allowing him to take hostages, showing reckless and utter disregard for the nurses’ safety.