LOMA LINDA, CA — When a 65-year-old veteran tried to discharge himself from a VA hospital, he received a fatal beating from police, his widow alleges in a federal lawsuit.
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Jonathan Montano, 65, survived the Vietnam War, but he did not survive the Department of Veterans Affairs. His widow, Norma Montano, has come forth with a complaint against the VA describing how beating by police caused him to die an untimely death.
Mr. Montano was a dialysis patient who sought care at the VA hospital in Loma Linda, California. However, the long wait times proved impossible for him to endure. On May 25th, 2011, After waiting 4 hours without receiving his treatment, he became “frustrated” and “decided to leave the hospital and to go to the VA Hospital in Long Beach,” the complaint states.
As Norma went to fetch the car, Mr. Montano was told by nurses that he may not leave. Hospital staff summoned the on-site enforcers from the Department of Veterans Affairs Police Department. They were told to physically prevent him from leaving.
A few minutes later, when Norma returned, she discovered her husband was bruised and bloodied. A staff member held up her arms and said, “all I know is he fell and had a stroke,” Norma recalled.
But Norma remained suspicious about how one fall could have caused so many cuts and bruises. The next day, a different nurse told Norma what really happened. According to the account, police threw Mr. Montano to the floor when he insisted on leaving. Five officers violently restrained him. During the scuffle, Montano’s head struck the floor.
“‘I’m the one who cleaned all the blood off of his face,” the nurse confessed to Norma. The nurse’s version of events directly contradicted what Norma had been told earlier.
“Why are they lying? What are they covering up?” asked Norma Montano to KTTV. “All these bruises, cuts. That wasn’t from the fall.”