Murder charge filed in fallout from video that shows nurses laughing as dying WWII vet struggles for air

Two nurses and an aide were indicted Wednesday in the death of an elderly patient, World War II veteran James Dempsey, who died pleading for help while in their care, WXIA-TV reported.

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Dempsey’s family, of Woodstock, Ga., hid a camera in the late veteran’s room in the Northeast Atlanta Health and Rehabilitation Center which captured the night he died.

The video showed the decorated U.S. Navy veteran repeatedly calling for help, saying he could not breathe. It also showed the nurses failing to take life-saving measures and laughing as they tried to start an oxygen machine.

The channel reported that Brookhaven Police launched an investigation and on Wednesday a grand jury returned an indictment.

Loyce Pickquet Agyeman’s top charge is felony murder; Wanda Nuckles, a nursing supervisor, is charged with depriving an elder of essential services and Mable Turman is charged with neglect to an elder, the report said. Warrants were issued for their arrests.

The nursing home’s attorneys attempted to stop media news outlet WXIA-TV from getting the video, but a DeKalb County judge ruled to unseal the footage.

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Nuckles told Dempsey’s family lawyers in the deposition that when she learned the veteran had stopped breathing, she rushed to his room and took over CPR, keeping it up until paramedics arrived, WXIA-TV reported.

However, the secret video showed that nobody was doing CPR when she arrived, and she did not start immediately. After the attorneys showed Nuckles the video, she told them it was an honest mistake, based on her normal reactions.

When the attorneys asked why Nuckles was laughing, she said she did not remember.

WXIA-TV reported the nursing home was told of the video in 2015 but did not terminate the nurses until 10 months later. Nuckles and another nurse did not surrender their licenses until this September, when the Georgia Board of Nursing was sent a link to the video by the news station.

Records showed the nursing home continued to have problems, including $813,000 in Medicare fines since 2015, WXIA-TV reported. It said the nursing home got a good inspection report in May, but still has Medicare's lowest score, a one-star rating. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.