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Murder charge filed after video shows nursing home staff laughing at dying WWII veteran

Former licensed nurse Wanda Nuckles (inset) watches hidden video camera footage that shows dying World War II veteran James Dempsey gasping for air and calling out for help as the nursing staff allegedly failed to provide appropriate life-saving measures. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

Three Georgia nursing home employees who allegedly laughed at a dying World War II veteran and ignored his pleas for help have been indicted on charges related to elder abuse, WXIA-TV reported. One of them was charged with murder.

What are the specific charges?

Loyce Pickquet Agyeman, Wanda Nuckles, and Mable Turman were each indicted for elder abuse, according to WXIA-TV.

James Dempsey, 89, a decorated World War II veteran, died under their care four years ago at the Northeast Atlanta Rehabilitation Center, according to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office.

Agyeman, a former licensed nurse, was charged with murder and neglect to an elder person. Nuckles, also a former licensed nurse, was charged with depriving an elder person of essential services. Turman, a certified nurse assistant, was charged with neglect to an elder person. All three women were charged with concealing a death, WXIA reported.

The nurses' actions were revealed in a hidden video camera put in place by Dempsey’s family, reports state.

At one point, the nurses are heard laughing as they try to get Dempsey’s oxygen machine to operate properly. During a statement, Nuckles said the nurses performed CPR, but the video does not show them taking that action.

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

The video shows Dempsey repeatedly crying out to the nurses for help, as they allegedly neglect to perform life-saving measures. The footage was recently released through a lawsuit filed by Dempsey’s family, reports said.

“Video surveillance shows the patient suffering in respiratory distress and repeatedly calling out for help,” said Yvette Jones, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office. “Soon after his distress calls, the victim became unresponsive.”

The nurses kept their jobs for nearly three years after the incident, until WXIA sent the video to the Georgia Board of Nursing, according to reports. Shortly after, law enforcement began investigating.

What did a nursing expert say?

The TV station showed the video to Elaine Harris, a retired nursing professor and adult critical care expert.

“In 43 years in nursing, I have never seen such disregard for human life in a health care setting, is what I witnessed,” Harris told WXIA-TV. She said she observed that the nursing staff failed to respond, assess, and act in the situation.

A trial date for the case has not been set. The District Attorney’s Elder Abuse and Exploitation Unit is prosecuting.

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