Man facing charges after alleged assault at Powell hospital

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After allegedly chasing a Powell Valley Hospital nurse with an IV stand, barricading himself in an elderly patient’s room and screaming at a police officer, a 27-year-old Powell man is facing multiple criminal charges.

Prosecutors have charged Thomas E. Larson with a felony count of aggravated assault and battery — alleging that he attempted to cause bodily injury with a deadly weapon (the IV stand) — and misdemeanor counts of property destruction and breach of peace.

Larson was arrested at Powell Valley Hospital around 3 a.m. Sunday and released on an $8,000 bond on Monday afternoon, pending further proceedings in the case.

It’s unclear why Larson was roaming the hospital halls early Sunday morning, as he was not a patient.

“The defendant, from what I understand, was in the hospital not for any legitimate reason, but just happened to be in there when he started the fuss that he made,” Deputy Park County Attorney Michael Greenwood said in court.

Alcohol is alleged to have played a role in the incident, as a breath test reportedly pegged Larson’s blood alcohol content at 0.214 percent. That’s close to three times the point where someone is considered too impaired to safely drive.

In arguing for Larson’s bond to be set at $8,000, Greenwood said that prosecutors “believe he is a very serious danger to the community, having just walked into a place he had no need to be and doing the things that he did.”

Larson had no objection to the $8,000 figure, indicating it wouldn’t be a problem for him to get the money. After his arrest, he filled out a form requesting a public defender, but Larson said in court on Monday that he would actually be retaining a defense attorney with his own funds.

“When I was booked, I was quite intoxicated,” Larson explained to Magistrate Tom Keegan.

Sunday’s incident reportedly began when a Powell Valley Hospital nurse heard banging in the hallway and found Larson standing in the door of an equipment room.

“Hey, a—hole, come on!” Larson reportedly yelled at the nurse.

According to what the nurse later told police, Larson then barricaded himself inside the equipment room with medical items before emerging with an IV stand and chasing the man back toward the nurse’s station.

“[The nurse] said that he was fearful and felt as though Larson intended him harm with the metal rod,” Powell Police Sgt. Chad Miner recounted in an affidavit filed in support of the charges.

Larson then ducked into an elderly patient’s hospital room, which is where he was when Miner arrived on scene.

The sergeant found Larson had braced the door to the room. Miner forced it open and Larson emerged from behind the door, holding the metal rod in his hands.

“The man screamed at me and I was certain he was about to strike me,” Miner wrote.

The officer said he hit Larson in the upper chest with a palm heel strike, which knocked the 265-pound suspect down and into the wall.

After Miner put on handcuffs, Larson “indicated to me that he was done and no longer wanted to fight” and that his head hurt, the officer wrote. In the meantime, hospital staff “quickly removed’” the elderly patient from the room, Miner said.

“I tried speaking with [Larson], but he wouldn’t make [any] coherent statements and he claimed not to know where he was or what happened,” Miner wrote.

The affidavit says the altercation resulted in $300 worth of damage to the drywall and blinds in the hospital room, apparently from Larson crashing backwards into them.

The damaged IV stand, meanwhile, reportedly cost $200.

Miner indicated in his affidavit that he arrested Larson with a fourth charge in mind — that of felony assault on a peace officer — but prosecutors did not file it.

A preliminary hearing on the three pending charges is tentatively set for Jan. 9.

While he’s out on bond, Magistrate Keegan ordered Larson to obey the law, to abstain from alcohol, to stay out of bars and, among other conditions, to stay away from Powell Valley Hospital unless he’s seeking “legitimate emergency care.”

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