ANDERSON, Ind. – Police arrested an Anderson man accused of coughing on a nurse after saying he may have been exposed to COVID-19.
James D. Walker faces a felony charge of battery against a public safety officer.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Walker walked into the emergency room at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in the early morning hours of April 8 and claimed a friend of his died of COVID-19 two days earlier. He was coughing and experiencing shortness of breath, the affidavit said.
During the exam, the nurse practitioner asked Walker if he’d been drinking after smelling an alcoholic beverage on his breath.
Walker said he had been drinking and was having stomach cramps because his doctor had stopped prescribing him suboxone, according to court documents.
The nurse practitioner told him she was going to order a test for dehydration; Walker asked her why she didn’t order “the [expletive] test,” referring to the COVID-19 test.
When the woman explained that Walker didn’t meet the criteria, he pulled down his mask and coughed in her face, according to court documents.
The nurse practitioner was wearing a hair bonnet, goggles and an N95 mask but felt Walker’s breath on her forehead along with spit or phlegm from the cough, the affidavit said.
The nurse, upset by Walker’s actions, left the room to order some lab work. Another employee then saw Walker leave the hospital, the affidavit said.