Staff members at Livonia COPE facility accused of abusing 3 mental health patients

6 staff members face charges

LIVONIA, Mich. - Six members of the staff at a Livonia psychiatric treatment facility face serious charges for the alleged abuse of three men in their care. 

Dr. Hanumaiah Bandla, 64, of West Bloomfield, and nurse Erma Owens, 79, of Inkster, are accused of failing to report the staff members' abuse of the three men at the Livonia COPE (Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies) facility that allegedly took place between March 9 and March 23. They both face the charge of failure to report the abuse of a mental health recipient. 

NEW: 7 staff members at Livonia COPE facility charged

Four other staff members face charges including adult abuse, assault with intent to do great bodily harm by strangulation, and assault and battery. The victims are a 51-year-old Dearborn Heights man, a 48-year-old Romulus man and a 26-year-old Redford Township man. 

"The alleged abuse inflicted by these defendants is shocking," reads a statement from Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy. "The victims sought psychiatric help and were met with the opposite of help. We have to be much better than this. People that seek assistance deserve compassion, respect, and treatment that is beyond reproach.”

Here are the four other defendants and the charges against them: 

  • Thomas May, 59, of Westland, faces one count of vulnerable adult abuse third-degree and one count of assault and battery charges. 
  • Kyle Jackson, 30, of Oak Park, faces assault with intent to do great bodily harm by strangulation, four counts of vulnerable adult abuse third-degree, and two counts of assault and battery charges. 
  • Wynton Dixon, 57, of Detroit, faces faces assault with intent to do great bodily harm by strangulation, two counts of vulnerable adult abuse third-degree, and one count of assault and battery charges. Dixon also is charged with failing to report the abuse of a mental health recipient. 
  • Demetris Hunt, 28, of Wayne, faces one count of vulnerable adult abuse third-degree and one count of assault and battery charges. Hunt also is charged with failing to report the abuse of a mental health recipient.

Jackson was arraigned on July 11 and received a $5000/10 percent cash or surety bond.  His probable cause conference is scheduled for July 19 before Judge Kathleen McCann. All other arraignments are scheduled for Thursday, July 12 in 16th District Court in Livonia. 

The Livonia COPE facility is located along Schoolcraft Road just west of Farmington Road. 

Ed Forry, president and CEO of Hegira Programs, Inc., released a statement regarding the allegations:

“Recently, unfortunate incidents occurred at one of our facilities, which led to an investigation that revealed an extreme violation of our standards of care. The individuals in question were terminated as soon as we learned of the incidents in question, and we are fully cooperating with police as their investigation progresses.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy for any form of abuse, and the behavior of these former employees does not represent Hegira, our facility or the rest of our dedicated staff.

“Though all our employees undergo regular training and assessment, in light of this incident, we have fully audited our processes and have conducted additional re-training sessions. In our nearly half century of serving Michigan, this is the first time an incident of this nature has happened, and we are determined to ensure that it never happens again.”

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