Nicholas Burgos: Hospital Patient Shot To Death by LASD in 2020
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
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.
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.
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
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: The Cruelty of U.S. Migrant Detention Facilities in 2020