The Arizona Daily Star, March 4, 1998

CPS reports psych worker lay on Campos
By Enric Volante

A Desert Hills psychiatric worker lay on top of 15-year-old Edith Campos and pinned her face down on the ground as she turned blue, a Child Protective Services report says.

Campos died two days later. Tucson police are investigating whether she asphyxiated, court records show.

The initial report was among more than 400 pages of CPS documents released yesterday under a court order obtained by The Arizona Daily Star.

The report gives details of the first accounts to CPS of how workers restrained Campos on Feb. 2.

Campos was a patient at Desert Hills Center for Youth & Families, 2729 N. Introspect Drive.

In another incident, the mother of a Desert Hills patient charged that a Desert Hills worker fractured her daughter's vertebra Jan. 13 while restraining the girl after she made a racial slur. The mother said staff members failed to detect and properly treat the injury for about a month.

Desert Hills spokesman Kirke Cooper refused to discuss either incident yesterday. He cited the need to protect patient confidentiality.

CPS is still investigating both incidents, said CPS Operations Manager Flora Sotomayer. She would not disclose the agency's sources of information.

A search warrant affidavit filed by police last week said they are investigating those incidents and others. One detective said in the affidavit that he believes ``homicide, negligent homicide, manslaughter or child abuse'' occurred.

According to the CPS report on Campos, two staff members restrained the 110-pound girl after she began ``acting out.''

``Edith was restrained in a prone position on the floor, face down,'' the report says. One woman held her legs and feet while a man controlled her upper body.

``In the midst of the restraint, (the male staff member) ``laid over Edith in order to restrain her arms and upper body. This was a 10-minute restraint,'' a CPS worker wrote.

The girl ``was cyanotic when lifted up,'' according to the report.

Cyanosis is a condition in which the skin turns blue, as from improperly oxygenated blood.

An ambulance took her to St. Mary's Hospital, where she was placed on life-support equipment. She never regained consciousness. The report shows CPS got the information Feb. 9, a week after the restraint. Although it does not specify sources for the information, some apparently came from a Tucson police detective. He began investigating the Campos incident a week earlier. He then followed up on other allegations of injuries inflicted by staff members.

The CPS report said Tucson police Detective Phil Uhall interviewed five girls ranging in age from 12 to 16. They reported various abrasions, ranging from on the forehead to the shoulders.

Nearly three weeks before Campos died, a 14-year-old girl was restrained in an incident that fractured her vertebra, according to an unsubstantiated report to a CPS hot line from a source whose identity was withheld by CPS.

In that Jan. 13 incident, a staff member restrained her after she called him a racial name, a CPS worker wrote.

A worker placed her in a sitting position while a second worker held her legs, according to the account. Then the first worker ``leaned on her'' and ``applied pressure.''

``When her back snapped, (the staff member) said, `Who is the nigger now?' '' the report says.

The girl's mother said in an interview yesterday that her daughter complained of back pain for about a month before Desert Hills took her in for an X-ray that revealed a fractured vertebra.

``It was in retaliation for something she said, and he actually broke her back because she called him a nigger,'' charged the girl's mother, Marian Linda Smith of Show Low.

Smith said a doctor at the psychiatric facility initially told her her 14-year-old daughter had a strained back muscle that they treated with ibuprofen.

When the X-ray revealed the fracture, Smith said, the doctor told her it was from an old injury before she arrived at Desert Hills in December. Later, further hospital tests showed the fracture was recent, she said.

A Navajo County court placed the girl at Desert Hills after she admitted using amphetamines, a court clerk said. Her mother said Desert Hills staff members believed she wanted painkillers only because of her drug history.

``I believe that (Campos') death would not have happened if they had gone ahead and investigated (my daughter's) accident to begin with and treated it like she was hurt, instead of like she was a druggie just trying to get attention,'' Smith said.

The psychiatric hospital's account of the restraint and injury ``was a crock of baloney,'' the mother said. ``My child was hurt, and nobody listened to her. They let her suffer for a month.''

The daughter has since been placed on muscle-relaxing medication and gets around with a walker, Smith said.

Smith said she plans to seek a court order to remove her daughter from Desert Hills.

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