Patient sues officers, city, hospital after being shot in chest during bipolar episode
HOUSTON – A lawsuit was filed Tuesday morning against the City of Houston, four of its police officers, St. Joseph Medical Center and the hospital's parent company.
The lawsuit reveals details of what happened the day Alan Pean was shot in his hospital room.
Last August, Pean was a student at the University of Houston. He said he once dreamed of becoming a doctor, but after a dramatic encounter with police in his hospital room, that dream shifted to a future in another part of healthcare.
"I feel the need to go towards policy change," Pean said.
Pean told KPRC he's bipolar, and he tried admitting himself to the hospital on August 26th.
New legal documents claim Pean was naked and left his patient room three times during that visit, so medical staff called security.
Houston Police officers Oscar Ortega and Roggie Law went to his room. Investigators said Pean attacked them with a piece of furniture.
They tased and shot him, barely missing vital organs.
"I was shot squarely in the chest, right here," Pean said. "I lost nearly a third of my blood as I was on the floor in my patient room."
"Those officers responded to the room with overwhelming force, and instigated an attack on Alan who was undergoing, who was trapped in a mental health crisis at the time," attorney Joseph Melugin said.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday said the entire incident was about two minutes, but attorneys are not releasing the hospital video that shows when officers arrived.
"The hospital is liable because they put untrained people in a position to hurt people like Alan," Melugin said.
Melugin said HPD tried to make the shooting look justified by further charging Alan with assault. That charge was dropped in March.
Melugin also said the assault charge was made up and accused officers Ortega and Law with fabrication of evidence and excessive force.
"The City of Houston acts as though its police have a license to kill, they do not have a license to kill," Melugin said.
The lawsuit claims Pean is due over one million dollars in pain, suffering, legal and medical expenses that never would have been necessary, the lawsuit states, if the officers and hospital had been better trained to de-escalate a mental health crisis.
Last month, Mark Bernard, CEO of St. Joseph Medical Center, sent KPRC this statement:
"In the wake of this sad event, we are reviewing our practices and procedures, as we continue to provide the best possible care to those we serve."
Due to the pending litigation, the city's legal department declined to comment.