PUEBLO, Colo. (KDVR) — A lawsuit has been filed in the death of a man who went into a coma and died after four guards at a Pueblo hospital put him in a chokehold.
The widow of Mathew Haskel Jones filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Centura St. Mary-Corwin Hospital and the four guards involved in his death. The guards pinned him down that day while he waited for a ride home from getting medical help. He died eight days later.
“Mathew was taken to the hospital by ambulance for severe foot pain, he didn’t go there to be killed,” plaintiff and widow Dedra Jones said in a statement released by her attorneys. “Nobody should have to worry that their loved one will be harmed or killed at a hospital when they go in seeking help.”
The lawsuit names four guards as defendants: Anthony Virant, Anthony Ruff, Drake Castro and Randy Vialpando. It also names Catholic Health Initiatives, the faith-based nonprofit health organization that’s the parent company to Centura St. Mary-Corwin and is headquartered in Englewood.
Mathew Jones’ death determined to be homicide
Jones had been transported by ambulance to the hospital in a T-shirt and shorts on that 19-degree day for gout treatment, according to lawyers on the case. He was waiting to get a ride home to leave when the guards tried to force him from the hospital, according to the lawsuit.
“There was absolutely zero justification for killing this patient for refusing to go out the door and stand in the freezing cold in shorts and a tee shirt,” Jason Jordan, trial lawyer for the Jones family, said in a statement. “If they really needed him out that badly they could have at least offered him a blanket. Emergency rooms keep extra warm blankets for patients they care about.”
The incident happened on Feb. 10, 2021.
Attorneys for the Janes family said three of the officers held Jones down with the weight of their bodies while one held his hands and forearm on the man’s throat, according to surveillance video.
Jones went into a coma and died eight days later. An autopsy determined his death to be homicide, according to the Pueblo Police Department, which investigated the case.
Lawsuit claims hospital falsified, withheld records
Lawyers for Jones’ widow say the guards had arrest warrants for negligent homicide earlier this year, but court records show the case was not prosecuted.
The lawsuit also alleges the hospital falsified records and withheld records from the police. Attorneys also claim the hospital intimidated eyewitnesses, “including the eyewitness nurse working at the time who warned the security guards of what might happen as a result of deploying George-Floyd style chokeholds and restraints.”
FOX31 has reached out to Centura Health for comment and received this statement: “We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Mathew Haskel Jones. Protecting patient and associate privacy is a value deeply rooted in our organization and as such, and due to patient privacy laws, we are not able to comment further on the circumstances surrounding this event or on any pending litigation.”