Editor's Note: Details in this story may be disturbing for some readers
An Illinois nurse taken hostage at a suburban Chicago hospital was raped and tortured at gunpoint before she saved staff from the gunman, attorneys and a new lawsuit claim.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two nurses taken hostage May 13 at Delnor Hospital in Geneva, blames the incident on alleged violations by an officer guarding an inmate whose elaborate escape attempt turned into a deadly barricade situation. The suit also names Kane County and APEX3 Security as defendants, claiming they failed to properly monitor and secure the inmate.
The suit claims Tywon Salters, of Chicago, was left unshackled after a visit to the bathroom because he told a Kane County Sheriff’s officer he may need to use the restroom again.
That’s when attorneys say Salters managed to gain control of the officer’s gun and begin his attempt at an escape.
“Following the taking of his gun, the sheriff ran from the room, down the hall, into another patient’s room and hid,” the lawsuit claims. “The sheriff then took no action to attempt to regain control of his gun or protect hospital employees walking the floor.”
Salters, 21, of Chicago, was taken from the Kane County Jail by ambulance on May 8 to Delnor Hospital after eating part of his plastic, jail-issued sandal, the Kane County State’s Attorney said. After undergoing surgery to remove the plastic from his stomach, Salters was recovering while awaiting a court appearance set for May 17 at the Kane County Judicial Center. He had been charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
After grabbing the officer’s gun, a naked Salters allegedly entered a nursing office and took a nurse hostage before demanding she take off her clothes so he could put them on.
Salters “forced her to remove her clothes, threatened her, physically abused her, verbally abused her,” the lawsuit states.
When another nurse entered the office, Salters let the first nurse leave while taking the second nurse hostage, eventually moving her to a “decontamination room” where they would stay for the more than three hours.
“During which time he repeatedly beat her, forced her to remove her clothes, violently raped her, threatened her life, verbally abused her and held her at gunpoint,” the suit states.
“It’s been said that the nurses were not injured - when in fact one of the nurses was repeatedly beaten, she was tortured and she was raped," said attorney Sean Murray.
At one point, the nurse convinced Salters to allow her to make a phone call, one she used to alert other employees to escape, attorneys said. She led Salters through an area of the hospital “she knew would be evacuated and contain no hospital staff,” according to attorneys.
“The quick thinking by this nurse likely saved other hospital staff from being harmed,” attorneys said in a statement.
Negotiations were ongoing through the incident, officials said, but ultimately failed.
A SWAT team entered the area where Salters held his hostage and one of the officers shot him, the state’s attorney’s office said. One of the SWAT officers was also shot in the vest but was uninjured, officials said.
The suit offers the first account of what happened inside the hospital that day. Little information has been released by officials, with the state’s attorney earlier saying “there are many questions to be answered about this incident.”
The state's attorney's office declined to comment on the suit "pending the ongoing investigation and litigation."
"We really don't know what happened in the room," Kane County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Gengler told the Aurora Beacon-News last week.
Both the SWAT officer who fired the shot that killed Salters and the corrections officer who was disarmed were placed on paid administrative leave, per protocol.
Gengler told the Beacon-News the corrections officer’s placement was a formality.
"The officer had his weapon taken and that weapon was used (to hold someone) hostage," he told the newspaper. "To expect that person to come back to work is completely unrealistic."
The Kane County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a review of its policies, procedures and protocol involving the transport of detainees and how they are guarded when outside the jail.
“We are [filing suit] so this type of thing doesn’t happen to anyone else, and so that hospital staff can feel safe returning to work,” Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman LLC said in a statement.