An 86-year-old woman suffering from dementia was killed in a Brooklyn hospital after she was shoved by a woman trying to practice social distancing as the coronavirus pandemic persists.
According to The New York Times, Janie Marshall was confused and started walking around the ER at the Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center. Marshall grabbed another patient’s IV pole to regain her balance and stabilize herself, per police reports.
Cassandra Lundy, a 32-year-old patient, was upset that Marshall had broken the six feet of personal space recommended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Lundy shoved Marshall to the floor, and the 86-year-old struck her head.
She died three hours later.
Woodhull officials initially delivered a summons for Lundy on disorderly conduct, but after the medical examiner ruled Marshall’s death a homicide, the police charged Lundy with manslaughter and assault.
In a statement, Woodhull Health Center said it was cooperating with the police during the investigation.
“We are terribly saddened by this death,” the statement read. “We are committed to ensuring a safe, health-focused environment in these very demanding times so our heroic health care workers can continue to deliver the quality, compassionate care New Yorkers need more than ever.”
On March 27, Marshall was suffering from a stomachache, and her niece called an ambulance to Woodhull — where Marshall was treated earlier in the week for similar symptoms.
The senior was diagnosed with a blocked bowel and admitted to the hospital. However, the hospital didn’t allow Marshall's niece, Eleanor Leonard, or any other family members to stay with her in the emergency room as coronavirus precautions were going into effect.
The next day, Marshall and Lundy — both women from Brooklyn— crossed paths in the hospital. After being shoved, Marshall hit her head on the floor, where she lost consciousness and died hours later, according to reports. Lundy told police she had shoved Marshall because she “got into [her]space,” according to a criminal complaint.
“How do you put your hands on a 86-year-old woman?” said Marshall’s grandniece, Antoinette Leonard Jean Charles. “I also understand the fear level of every person in New York has. There is a notion of every man for themselves. But attacking an elderly person? That went too far.”
Marshall’s niece kept calling the hospital that day but wasn’t updated regarding her aunt’s injury until 5 p.m. when she was told Marshall was with a nurse receiving care.
“I thought, ‘That’s great. She’s being tended to,’” Leonard recalled. “I didn’t know she was dead already.”
Her phone rang early the next morning, and a doctor told her that her aunt had gone into cardiac arrest. Leonard said she went to the hospital but was sent home without an explanation after waiting several hours.
“We thought it was weird, cardiac arrest?” Jean Charles said. “She had gone in for something completely different. She suffered from dementia, bowel blockage, not heart problems that we knew of.”
A relative living in Long Island called Leonard after he had seen a troubling news report online.
“Did you know your aunt was murdered?” the cousin asked.
Leonard searched her aunt’s name on Google and saw news outlets detailing accounts from the police report.
“I was so stunned. It just tore at my gut that something like this would happen,” she said.
The Times reported that Marshall’s relatives and members of her church, Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, are planning to attend a virtual funeral service due to social distancing rules.
New York officials first implemented social distancing rules in March, as the city became the national epicenter of the outbreak. The virus has claimed the lives of over 5,000 New Yorkers in less than two months.