It is 5:32 AM on Thursday, June 19, 2008, in the ER psychiatric waiting room of Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. 49-year-old Esmin Green is sitting and waiting. The hospital staff have made her wait here since she was admitted to the hospital early Wednesday morning, nearly 24 hours earlier.
Esmin is not here of her own choosing. Just the previous day her pastor had called 911 because she thought that Esmin needed professional help. After evaluation the hospital staff involuntarily committed Esmin for “agitation and psychosis.” But it is an emergency phone call that the pastor will soon regret.
As Esmin sits in the institutional type waiting room chair, her body slowly begins to lean to her left. Then the tilt of her body quickly accelerates and she tumbles off the rigid waiting room chair toward the floor below. In only an instant she is lying face down on the cold, hard tile floor.
She is dying.
Esmin lies on the unforgiving tile floor for 63 more minutes. In that time she will struggle to rise, but she will be frustrated in the attempt because when she toppled off of the waiting room chair, she slid underneath the metal frame that connects the waiting room chairs together. When she tries to rise, she bumps into the chair’s frame and can go no further.
Because she cannot rise she is forced to endure the hardness of the cold tile floor that is sucking the warmth from her dying body. Many times during her last 63 minutes of life her body will twist and shake as if in convulsions.
Anyone can plainly see that she is in trouble, and there are people nearby. Several other patients mill about the waiting room, but they are ignoring Esmin’s plight. Six to eight feet across from where she had been sitting sits another individual who is facing Esmin and is also waiting. That person too ignores Esmin as she thrashes about on the cold, hard floor.
She is lying only three to four feet from a large window behind which supposedly sits a hospital security guard. Surely the guard will see Esmin and summon help for the dying woman.
But no help arrives.
At 5:53 AM a security guard enters the waiting room to watch the television set that hangs from the wall directly above where Esmin is dying on the cold, hard tile floor. The guard clearly watches the TV set above Esmin, and he must notice Esmin lying face down on the floor. He cannot help but notice her.
But he eventually leaves, and, again, no help arrives for Esmin.
The first video is a CNN report of the incident:
Her official hospital records state that at 6:00 AM Esmin rose and went to the bathroom. They also state that at 6:20 AM she was “awake and sitting quietly in the waiting room.”
However, the hospital’s security cameras tell a different story. According to the cameras at 6:00 AM Esmin is still lying face down on the cold, hard tile floor where she had fallen at 5:32 AM. And when hospital records state that she was in the bathroom, Esmin was clearly convulsing face down in that same fateful spot on the floor.
At 6:07 AM Esmin endures what appear to be her final moments of life. She struggles, she convulses and she tries to get up. Finally, she lies motionless on the unforgiving cold, hard tile floor where her life ebbed away. She was so very near to medical help that might have prevented her death.
Yet no help ever came.
At 6:10 AM a security guard again checks the waiting room, wheeling in momentarily on an office chair on wheels. He looks in Esmin’s direction and then leaves. Again no one comes to help, although it is not clear if anything can be done for her at that point for she appeared lifeless on the tape.
At 6:35 AM a patient finally notifies staff members of her situation. But it is too late because Esmin is gone.
This video is footage of Esmin Green’s last minutes of life. It was released by the the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Esmin’s 31-year-old daughter, Tecia Harrison, cannot bring herself to watch the tape of her mother’s last minutes of life. “I haven’t seen it, and I don’t think I have the heart or mind to watch it because that’s my mother there. That’s the woman who gave birth to me 31 years ago. I cannot watch that.”
See A Psychiatrist Examines the Esmine Green Tragedy in the Chicago Tribune
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