A Missouri man dying of stage-four renal failure and on the shortlist for a kidney transplant was wrongly detained and beaten by security at the hospital where he was being treated. Less than a year after the altercation, the patient succumbed to his illness. Now his daughter has picked up the fight for justice.
A little over a year ago, on Monday, June 28, 2021, the late Hughie Robinson filed a lawsuit against Barnes-Jewish hospital. In the claim, he alleged members of the facility’s security staff battered, assaulted and falsely imprisoned him, thus violating his civil rights, according to the Missouri Human Rights Act.
The lawsuit states their position that the assault, battery, and violation of his civil rights were all done because of Robinson’s race, saying, “Defendants’ guard made this accusation solely because Plaintiff is a Black man.”
After the man died, his daughter Chelsea Robinson took over the lawsuit on behalf of his estate, hoping a judge would give him dignity in death — which was robbed from him during the last days of his life.
In an exclusive statement to Atlanta Black Star, she wrote, “It’s important for me to continue the case because my dad deserves to be at peace, and it’s what he would have wanted … his words exactly. So, it’s only my duty to do right by his name.”
Robinson had gone to the hospital on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, according to legal documents Atlanta Black Star obtained regarding the case, in hopes to receive a kidney transplant.
After being told he was second in line to possibly receive the life-saving organ, he immediately went to the hospital and parked his Buick in the garage on Kingshighway Boulevard near Interstate 64 (Highway 40). He was admitted, but released four days later on Sunday, April 10, after no kidney was available.
Upon arriving home, the hospital called and told him that he had forgotten his wallet in his room. They asked him to return but told him this time to park in the garage on Euclid and Forest Park avenues, a lot with which he wasn’t familiar.
Robinson returned to the hospital and retrieved his wallet but forgot where he was parked. Despite asking both a security guard and the help desk, he still was unsuccessful in locating the car. He didn’t realize he was in the wrong garage.
After a bit, other BJH security guards noticed him and believed the lost man, frail from being hospitalized for kidney disease, was looking for a car to steal.
Instead of asking what he was doing, spotting his hospital bracelet he was wearing, or asking to see the parking garage ticket in his pocket, the guards beat him and arrested him.
The claim states, “While Hughie was continuing to look for his Buick, several of Defendant’s security guards, including the guard who had earlier been assigned to help Hughie locate his car, approached Hughie.”
It continues, “Hughie asked, ‘What did I do?’ The guards did not answer. Instead, one guard grabbed Hughie’s shoulder and arm forcefully, in the spot where Hughie’s arm was tender from the port. Another of Defendant’s guards tackled Hughie. Both guards began to beat him. A third guard then jumped on top of Hughie. Hughie cried out that the guards were hurting him. At least one of the guards responded, ‘Good.’ The guards then forced Hughie into a pair of handcuffs. All of this was on video.”
The lawsuit said the armed guards “tackled” Robinson.
“Afterward, Barnes kept Hughie handcuffed in an interrogation chamber in the basement of the hospital,” writes the plaintiff’s attorney Rick Voytas in the claim. “In this windowless room, one of the Barnes guards, a tall, heavy-set man with a buzz cut, smashed Hughie’s head into the wall with his forearm.”
The hospital tried to have videos of the altercation and interrogation suppressed by having their lawyers file a protective order to keep them from being made public.
Originally, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Joan Moriarty granted the order. She would later reverse her own ruling, when Voytas showed there weren’t any other identifiable patients on two essential videos, eliminating their claims that some individuals under their care might have their privacy compromised.
The videos were particularly violent and showed three officers manhandling the man at the top of an escalator and then later in an interrogation room.
It is alleged by the officers that they wanted to interrogate him about why he was looking around the garage, but they never gave him a chance before engaging in excessive force.
Eventually, Robinson was able to prove to the security guards he was a patient and not a carjacker. The lawsuit states that instead of an apology, they teased him for driving an older model Buick.
The cops then say to the man, “If one of my officers, or WashU officers see you back on this property again, we’re going to do this whole thing again, cause you ain’t supposed to be here. You cool with that? … Don’t come back.”
The problem with their statements is that the man was under doctor’s care at the hospital, regularly being treated for his kidney disease. Out of fear that the security guards would make good on their promise to hurt him, whenever he came back, he had to ask someone to come with him. Oftentimes, his lawyer would accompany him.
Chelsea said that after the altercation, the hospital did not reach out to the family.
“The hospital never reached out to me. Ever. I have not spoken with his doctors,” she said.
She also noted she never knew how bad things were for her father, but knew that the longer he went without a “properly working kidney,” the worse he felt. The trepidation he felt about going back and forth to the hospital didn’t make things better.
Robinson’s daughter said her dad were “traumatized, sad, unhappy that he was picked on.”
She continued, “He felt embarrassed, as well, about being physically assaulted.”
“He was the type of person that keep his head down and his feelings to himself,” Chelsea revealed. “So, when he told me how he felt, it really broke my heart. My dad was in pain, both physically and mentally.”
Evidence of this can be read on Robinson Facebook posts days later.
On Wednesday, April 13, 2021, he wrote, “Check this out. After I left the hospital I forgot what part of my car at in the garage I’m walking through the garage looking for my car I was suspicious the police came I’m just at the hospital you know it’s crazy I’m seeing red now.”
He also posted, writing, “One more thing, I’m in the office in the back room at Barnes hospital handcuffed for no reason except being profiled and lied on.”
BJC denies wrongdoing in detaining Robinson and keeping him for interrogation, asking Moriarty to dismiss the case. She would not.
BJC filed a motion to have the case thrown out, appearing before the court on Monday, April 4, 2022.
On Wednesday, April 20, 2022, Robinson died at the age of 52 from his kidney disease without the case against the hospital being resolved.
Knowing the end was near, his daughter filed on Monday, April 18 and Monday, April 25 with a probate judge to have the lawsuit and the protective order amended, so that she can continue the fight for justice for her father.
The order was amended on Monday, May 16 by Moriarty and thus the lawsuit was refiled.
For Chelsea, who is now at the helm of the case, there is “only one thing that matters … Justice for Hughie Robinson.”
“That would mean the entire universe to my family and I.”
Robinson leaves to mourn three daughters and one son, all hoping for victory.