Records: 1 mental health worker fired, 4 suspended after Georgetown native dies at bottom of dogpile


William Avant (Source: online obituary)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – Records say the South Carolina Department of Mental Health fired at least one worker involved in the suffocation of a patient who died after trying to break a window and being piled on by employees.

The State newspaper reports state Department of Administration records detail the worker’s firing and the suspension of four others.

The records say an investigation into the January death of 35-year-old William Avant found the suspended workers violated policy, but concluded allegations of abuse weren’t substantiated. The workers returned, were retroactively suspended for a month and offered pay for other missed work.

Avant is a Georgetown, S.C., native, The State Newpaper reported, who had been in Mental Health’s inpatient care for more a dozen years

Video of the incident showed the employees on top of Avant at a Columbia mental hospital for four minutes. His face was blue and he was unresponsive when they got up. The State Law Enforcement Division investigated Avant’s death but did not press charges.

The investigation’s findings on the fired employee and a contractor who left the agency the day Avant died remain secret. The obtained records didn’t include those findings and the health agency refused to release them.

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