Families to talk to hospital after volunteer’s tirade


WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Two families targeted by a North Carolina hospital volunteer’s expletive-laced, racially tinged tirade said Wednesday they are pursuing justice but have not yet taken legal action against the hospital.

The families of Isaiah Baskins and Katie Thomas are represented by Justin Bamberg, an Orangeburg, South Carolina-based attorney who is also representing the family of Walter Scott, a black North Charleston, South Carolina, man who was shot and killed by a white city police officer. The officer now faces state and federal charges.

“We are here to pursue justice,” Bamberg said during a news conference in Winston-Salem, noting that Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center apologized to the families and fired the volunteer, whose rant was captured on a cellphone and widely circulated on YouTube. “But it should have never gotten to that point in the first place. … It’s inexcusable, and there’s no reason that it should be happening in 2016.”

Bamberg, who is also a state representative in South Carolina, said no legal action has been taken so far. He also said the families do need to be compensated, and that they hope the volunteer, who is scheduled to appear in court Friday, is convicted of the simple assault charges she is facing. He said there also needs to be an examination of how the hospital screens volunteers.

In response to comments at the news conference, a spokesman for Wake Forest Baptist referred to its statement on April 15 in which it issued an apology and announced that the volunteer had been fired.

There was no immediate response to a voice message left at a phone number listed for Donna Lorraine Bridger, the former volunteer charged.

According to Bamberg, Baskins and Thomas were at Wake Forest Baptist on April 14. Baskins’ 2-week-old daughter was at the hospital for a follow-up examination after undergoing two heart surgeries. Thomas was there because one of her four sons was having blood work done. Thomas and Baskins were talking to each other in the hospital’s family center when the volunteer approached them and asked if they were together.

“Suddenly, out of nowhere, this volunteer explodes in a rage unlike anything I have ever seen, especially at a hospital,” said Bamberg, who is also trying to obtain the hospital’s surveillance video.

Bamberg said the volunteer told Baskins to “get your black kids out of here.” The volunteer then asked Baskins if he had a job and if he knew what a job was and used the N-word. The volunteer then invoked the name of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, “You’re the person Donald Trump talks about,” according to Bamberg. The volunteer also pushed Thomas’ 5-year-old son and Baskins’ 1-year-old son, the attorney said.

Baskins then began to record the confrontation. The 26-year-old stay-at-home dad said the experience has impacted his three children.

“Every time they go to the hospital, they feel a little bit uneasy. So I know it’s left an impression on them,” Baskins said. “I do want justice. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. Words can’t even describe what happened to me and my family.”

Thomas, 30, said she finds the experience difficult to understand.

“First, I was scared. Then, I was mad,” she said. “I don’t even know how to explain it to you. I just knew I had to get my kids out fast.”

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