Nicholas Burgos: Hospital Patient Shot To Death by LASD in 2020


Protest for justice in Nicholas Burgos' shooting death

Sign carried at a July 9, 2021 rally demands justice in the killing of Nicholas Burgos by LA County Sheriff’s deputies at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. (Source)

September 6, 2021 ~ By Shari Rose

Burgos was a patient at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center when he was shot 7 times by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy

Nicholas Burgos Los Angeles

Nicholas Burgos in an undated photo. (Source)

On October 6, 2020, Nicholas Burgos was undergoing treatment at the mental health ward of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on the fourth floor of the hospital. In a nearby room on the same floor, two sheriff’s deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department guarded an injured deputy.

Burgos, 38, began to experience a mental health emergency and exited his room. He started wandering through the halls, attempting to break windows of the hospital. Over a loudspeaker, the hospital announced that a patient had left his room and called in a “special crisis team” to come and take Burgos back to the ward. 

Unfortunately, Burgos found the room containing three sheriff’s deputies. LASD says that Burgos carried a “steel medical device” with him and successfully broke the window of the room. 

One of the sheriffs in the room, Dalia Gonzalez, quickly shot at Burgos through the broken window nine times. Seven bullets hit his body. He died nearly a month later of his injuries. 

Harbor-UCLA Doctors & Nurses Protest the LASD Shooting

The deputies were not wearing body cameras, and there is no video footage in the patient rooms. LASD Sheriff Alex Villanueva defended Gonzalez’s shooting of Burgos. He even said that Burgos looked like a scene out of “The Shining,” an incredibly flippant way to describe a person who was killed for having a mental health crisis in a hospital, and only serves to further vilify the mentally ill. 

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In the aftermath of the shooting, doctors and nurses employed by Harbor-UCLA staged a large protest on hospital grounds. They argued that the hospital has specialized teams trained to de-escalate people having psychotic breakdowns, and Burgos was needlessly killed. 

Nick Burgo's family speaks at a protest over his death

Left to right: Nicholas Burgos’ mother Maria Guzman, his brother Benjamin Burgos, and his sister Maria Burgos speak with members of a rally outside of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center on July 9, 2021. (Source)

The shooting of Nichoals Burgos is not the first time police have killed a patient at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. In 2015, an LAPD officer killed Ruben Herrera. The officer alleged that Herrera reached for his gun, but a jury didn’t believe it and awarded $3.9 million to the family in a lawsuit. 

Burgos’ Family Files Wrongful Death Suit

Deputy Dalia Gonzales who killed Nicholas Burgos

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Dalia Gonzalez at a LASD event in 2017 explains in Spanish why she decided to become a deputy. (Source)

Nicholas Burgos’ family filed a wrongful death suit on July 9, 2021. Those named in the lawsuit include the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Health Services, Los Angeles County, and Deputy Dalia Gonzalez, who shot and killed Burgos. 

The lawsuit contends that Gonzalez “carelessly and negligently contacted Mr. Burgos and escalated and agitated his mental health crisis by yelling at him, pointing her firearm at him, and engaging in other conduct which escalated Mr. Burgos’ mental health emergency.”

LASD provided no comment on the lawsuit.

This story of Nicholas Burgos is part of a larger project that looks at recent police shootings of Latinos in Los Angeles.

More stories: Alvaro Duran Venegas: Killed By Santa Clarita Sheriffs in 2019

More stories: Armando Garcia-Muro: Teenager Killed By LA Sheriffs As They Shot A Dog

More stories: The Cruelty of U.S. Migrant Detention Facilities in 2020

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Shari Rose

Shari Rose

Owner of Blurred Bylines

Shari Rose created Blurred Bylines to help bring stories from marginalized perspectives and experiences into the national conversation. A former journalist and current SEO enthusiast, she does her best to combine both in her stories at BB. The articles she writes typically involve individuals or social movements that are uniquely American in their struggles, triumphs, and challenges. 💖💜💙✊🏼

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