Investigation finds no evidence of mistreatment of Lakota man - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Investigation finds no evidence of mistreatment of Lakota man

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The South Dakota Attorney General's Office says it's found no evidence that staff of a Rapid City hospital mistreated a Lakota man.

Monday, the Attorney General's Office said it's completed its investigation and review into the alleged mistreatment of Vernon Traversie at Rapid City Regional Hospital.

Traversie, 69, lives on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. Traversie has sued Rapid City Regional Hospital, the hospital's board of directors and several others claiming the letters 'KKK' were carved into his stomach following heart surgery last year.

Here is a timeline of the Attorney General's investigation:

  • September 10, 2011 - Vernon Traversie reports alleged mistreatment to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Law Enforcement.
  • September 16, 2011 - Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Law Enforcement forwards complaint to state and federal law enforcement.
  • September 20, 2011- Rapid City Police Department opens investigation and conducts interviews
  • October 2011- South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners has an independent cardiac surgeon review case.
  • April 26, 2012- Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) receives request to investigate a hate crime against Traversie, and opens independent investigation.
  • May and June 2012- DCI and FBI interview 14 individuals, including three Western Dakota Technical Institute students who were present in the operating room during the surgery.
  • June 21, 2012- FBI and DCI conduct interview with Traversie.

In a news release Monday, the Attorney General's Office says based on the investigations, Traversie's scars are a side effect of the surgery. Specifically, the investigations found that the marks were the result of a skin reaction to the medical grade tape used to secure tubes that remain in place after surgery. The Attorney General's Office says the allegations of mistreatment were not supported by the evidence.

In addition to the criminal investigation, the South Dakota Department of Health also investigated the allegations from a healthcare facility regulatory perspective. The department received the initial complaint September 28, 2011 and concluded its investigation October 5, 2011. That investigation was unable to substantiate the allegations of patient abuse, neglect or improper patient care and that information was reported to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"The serious allegation that someone intentionally engaged in the hate crime of carving 'KKK' into a South Dakotan, if true, would justify criminal prosecution to the fullest extent of the law," said Jackley. "The independent investigations have produced no evidence of such criminal or intentional conduct."

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