Workers at Livonia COPE facility charged in abuse of mental health patients

6 staff members face charges for alleged abuse of patients

LIVONIA, Mich. - There is a massive investigation into what happened at the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority's COPE (Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies) facility in Livonia. 

Three employees at the facility are charged with assaulting -- even strangling -- three men in crisis who went to COPE for mental health help. 

NEW: 7 staff members at Livonia COPE facility charged

The investigation started small at 2 a.m. March 17. Police and firefighters were called to the facility on a report of a fall. 

"The officers arrived. The injuries seemed extremely suspicious on how it was explained. We started our investigation from there. And that led us after months of investigation, very extensive, to multiple defendants with multiple charges," said Livonia police Cpt. Ronald Taig. 

Sources said Livonia police investigators began to review security camera footage showing at least three patients being brutally assaulted by four staff members. One of the staffers, Kyle Jackson, was charged this week with assault by strangulation, assault and battery, and vulnerable adult abuse.

Kyle Jackson (WDIV)

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. 

Three others were charged and in front of a judge Thursday morning. 

Staff psychiatrist 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. 

Dr. Hanumaiah Bandla at his arraignment on July 12, 2018. (WDIV)

Erma Owens at her arraignment July 12, 2018. (WDIV)

COPE staff members fired after incident

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.”

Here are the six 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.
  • Dr. Hanumaiah Bandla, 64, of West Bloomfield, is charged with failing to report the abuse of a mental health recipient.
  • Nurse Erma Owens, 79, of Inkster, is charged with failing to report the abuse of a mental health recipient.

Thomas May at his arraignment on July 12, 2018. (WDIV)

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