Was it a lack of communication between the hospital and police, that allowed a man, who was shot and critically injured by police, to check himself out of the hospital and walk right out the front door?
Robert McBride, Jr., 22, was shot by an officer in a Mira Mesa shopping center on Jan. 26 when he pointed a replica gun at an officer, investigators said.
Scripps Healthcare CEO, Chris Van Gorder, says it was the Police Department's responsibility to provide security for the suspect.
A press release issued last week by the police department indicated that they would take responsibility for guarding the suspect.
"McBride will be guarded at the hospital until he is healthy enough to be booked into County Jail for exhibiting an imitation firearm in a threatening manner and probation violation," Lt. Kevin Rooney said in the release.
After the shooting, McBride wasn’t arrested, but was sent to the hospital where he underwent surgery and was said to be in critical condition immediately following the shooting. Around 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, McBride checked himself out of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla against medical advice, police said.
“My impression was that he wasn't under arrest,” a woman who identified herself as McBride’s wife told NBCSanDiego Thursday night. “He walked out. They wheeled him to the door.”
Police confirmed that information. A detective learned that McBride had checked out when he called the hospital to check on the suspect.
Officers searched for McBride in the area, but later arrested him at a relative’s home in Talmadge.
Police say McBride was never arrested, but that they had planned to book him on suspicion of exhibiting an imitation firearm and probation violations upon his recovery.
“If it’s someone we have arrested, we have a guard in place and we don't have to go though this, I don't have all the background on why that didn't occur,” Lt. Todd Jarvis said. “I am assuming the charges he was facing, they didn't want to arraign him yet and didn’t want to have a police officer sitting there 24 hours a day for a week.”
The issue of hospital safety has been on the mind of California nurses for a long time.
The California Nurses Association has introduced legislation that would require hospitals to have updated security plans and to make them subject to penalties or fines if they don't comply, said CNA spokesperson Bonnie Castillo.
Incidents like this shows that hospitals must be more aware of security threats and do more to protect nurses, staffers, and other patients, Castillo said.
However, according to Van Gorder, San Diego Police did not tell the hospital anything about the suspect that would have made them concerned about staff and patient safety.
Van Gorder said if they had, he would have placed one of the hospital's security guards at McBride's door.
McBride was in custody Thursday night while officers determined if they should book him into jail or if he should return to the hospital.
They could not comment on his current medical condition.