'My dad's not safe': Family of man beaten at nursing home seeks answers

By Keith Garvin - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - It's been a swirl of emotions nearly 24 hours after we first spoke to Leticia Villareal about bruises her 84-year-old father suffered inside his nursing home Wednesday night.

After we first aired our story HPD sent investigators to the Briarwood Nursing and Rehabilitation home in southeast Houston and now believe Fred Lopez was beaten by a nursing assistant. Lopez's family says they were told by facility staff he had been injured in an altercation with another patient.

"My dad's not safe," Villareal said. "We're not going to sleep tonight just thinking about what happened."

Channel 2 sat down Friday evening with Villareal and two of her sisters after they learned news of the investigation. They were surprised by the information after meeting with administrators earlier in the day when they say they got a much different story about the attack.

"They convinced me it was a patient," Vera Escobar, one of Lopez's daughters, said. "To know and hear that it was a worker, an employee. That's not going to fly with me."

We checked and found that just this year an investigation by Texas Health and Human Services found 12 violations at Briarwood -- several of which have yet to be corrected.

Seven were "life safety violations" -- five were deemed as health violations in which the state found "the facility did not protect each resident from all abuse, physical punishment, and being separated from others."

Briarwood was also cited because administrators "failed to have written rules against mistreating, neglecting, and abusing residents, and mishandling residents' property."

That is just more news that troubles the family of Fred Lopez.

"I don't know this person, but he had no right to lay a hand on my dad," Escobar said. "And I want him to go to jail."

Channel 2 made repeated attempts to contact administrators at Briarwood on the phone and in person. They have yet to return our phone calls and when we sent one of our photojournalists there to get some answers, she was escorted off the property.

In addition to the investigation by HPD, the case will also be investigated by the state's Department of Aging and Disabilities and the Senior Justice Assessment Center which is a Harris County agency.

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