A 20-year-old man who was sent to a nursing home because he contracted COVID-19 was charged Sunday morning with two counts of "assault with intent to do great bodily harm" for repeatedly punching a 75-year-old patient who he was sharing a room with.
Jaden Hayden of Ypsilanti, Michigan, has also been charged with "larceny in a building" and two counts of "financial transaction device, steal/retain without consent" for allegedly stealing credit cards belonging to Norman Bledsoe, an Army veteran and patient at Westwood Nursing Center in Detroit.
"The alleged actions of this defendant are truly and uniquely disturbing. We must be able to trust our loved ones in specialty care facilities. I truly hope that the facts of this care are one of a kind," Prosecutor Kym Worthy said of the May 10 incident that Hayden videotaped on his cell phone and posted on social media.
Hayden was arrested Thursday, six days after the incident, according to the Wayne County prosecutor’s office. Police in Ann Arbor and Detroit first learned of the attack after the public alerted them about the video that was being circulated on social media.
The suspect’s father told Fox2 in Detroit that he's praying for the elderly victim and explained that his son has autism and several health issues. The 20-year-old Hayden was at a mental health facility in Ann Arbor where he reportedly complained that he was unable to sleep, was feeling anxious, and hearing voices. He was moved to Westwood Nursing Center on Detroit’s west side in early May after being diagnosed as having COVID-19.
“It should’ve never happened because he should’ve never been put in that environment,” the father was quoted as saying. “Had I known he was there I would’ve never have consented to it.”
Warning: Video shows graphic images of elder abuse, physical assault
“He never should have been housed... quarantined with the victim that he eventually assaulted. That should have never happened,” WXYZ quoted the father as saying.
The father also revealed that there’s a pending case in Washtenaw County where his son allegedly assaulted a staff member at a group home.
About the incident, the father said, “That hurts to see that. What he did is wrong and (I offer) my apologies to the victim's family.”
The victim, a care home patient, was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The video, which showed the younger man relentlessly punching the elderly man in his face as the elderly man was lying on a bed and the beating continued after he sat up, went viral on social media.
“It absolutely shattered my heart. It just broke my heart how anyone could be capable of this kind of brutality,” a Cleveland-area woman who alerted Detroit-area authorities after spotting the video om social media, told Fox2 in Detroit. “How does this guy have free rein to go into other patients’ rooms and physically abuse them and no one is aware of it?”
“Thank you to everyone for your assistance in bringing the senior home incident to our attention,” the Detroit Police Department wrote on Twitter. “The @detroitpolice is investigating the situation and an arrest has been made. Thank you again.”
President Donald Trump also responded to the video: “Is this even possible to believe? Can this be real?” the president wrote on Twitter. “Where is this nursing home, how is the victim doing?”