Crime: Dying While Latino


root - Posted on 01 January 2000

by Alex Cuff/PNN News Brief Editor

For over a year the body of Armando Chapal Ramirez lay forgotten, by hospital staff, and decaying in the morgue at Robert F. Kennedy Medical Center in Hawthorne. Armando’s family had certainly not forgotten him. The hospital, "had him there the whole time down there. Meanwhile, we were suffering day and night, waiting for the worst," said Ramirez’s father, Jesus, 45, a stock clerk in Gardena.

After a family barbecue on September 30, 2001, Ramirez who had an addiction and would go on binges for two or three days every month or so, slipped out of the house unnoticed. When he didn’t return, his parents began driving around the neighborhood inquiring with several area hospitals, store owners, friends, and neighbors. Jesus then filed a missing-person report with the police.

Ramirez was brought into the emergency room at Robert F. Kennedy Medical Center on October 1, 2001. He had pneumonia in his right lung and suffered kidney and liver failure. He was reported dead on October 9th and his body moved to the hospital morgue. Standard operating procedure is to call a law enforcement agency and ask them to take a death report which then generates a report to the coroner’s office. This was never done in Ramirez’s case.

Douglas Shaffer, the family’s attorney described the event as "the height of incompetence and neglect." When the family first got the call, they thought Armando had just died. They had been searching desperately for 11 months. "It was a great horror," his mother cried, "I’d never expect that a hospital would just keep a young man all alone like that."

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