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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW: East Texas nurse arrested for murder of decorated Army veteran

TYLER, Texas (KETK) - An East Texas nurse, whose license was recently suspended by the Texas Board of Nursing, has been arrested for the murder of a decorated Army veteran.

The Tyler Police Department arrested William George Davis, 34, of Hallsville, on Tuesday, in the lobby of the police department after he came by to pick up evidence that was to be released back to him.

He was taken into custody on a warrant signed by 241st District Court Judge Jack Skeen, on the authority of the 114th District Court, for the death of Christopher Greenaway, 47.

Police spent more than 1,700 hours investigating the case prior to Davis' arrest and there are no other persons of interest.

Davis is only charged in Greenway's death and remains in the Smith County Jail on $2,000,000 bond.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families who have been affected by these acts,” said Tyler Police Chief Jimmy Toler. “The assistance and cooperation from the Smith County District Attorney and CHRISTUS have been extremely beneficial during the initial stages of this investigation.”

DAVIS' BACKGROUND

Davis, who served as a registered nurse at the CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital, recently completed his Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) for Acute Care Nurse Practitioners.

He was fired by the hospital system in February 2018, due to his "falsification of care events and his unethical practice related to failure to disclose interventions provided" which may have impacted a patient's status on January 25, 2018, according to the Texas Board of Nursing. (See CHARGE 3 below)

Prior to taking a position at the heart hospital, Davis worked at Good Shepherd Medical Center (Now CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center - Longview) from 2011-2013, according to CHRISTUS Health Northeast Texas spokesman Will Knous.

TEXAS BOARD OF NURSING ISSUES SUSPENSION ORDER

On March 16, 2018, the Texas Board of Nursing issued a Temporary Suspension Order against Davis, citing cases in which the board determined Davis was a "continuing and imminent threat to the public welfare."

Davis' RN license was issued on March 29, 2011, with an expiration date of February 28, 2018.

Prior to recent activity by the Board, Davis had no disciplinary action on his record.

CHARGES PER TEXAS BOARD OF NURSING

The Board identified the following three charges as events which they say provided evidence to go forward with the suspension. (Editor's Note: All charges outlined below were presented by the Board and have not been subjected to an independent investigation by KETK.)

CHARGE 1

On August 4, 2017, Davis entered the room of a patient, identified as Greenway, to whom he was not assigned.

Documents provided by the Board state he performed an unskilled and/or unnecessary and/or inappropriate intervention for Greenway.

A short time later, the Greenway's condition began to deteriorate and a stroke code was initiated requiring resuscitative measures.

Greenway died two days later, on August 6, 2017.

The Board says Davis failed to communicate his actions to the Greenway's assigned nurse and/or document the event.

On August 8, an autopsy revealed Greenway suffered a cortical acute ischemic infarction from an air embolism that contributed to the patient's death, according to the Board.

CHARGE 2

On November 30, 2017, Davis entered the room of patient Pamela Henderson, to whom he was not assigned, and performed an unskilled and/or unnecessary and/or inappropriate intervention for the patient, the Board says.

Approximately five minutes later, the patient's condition began to deteriorate and a stroke code was initiated requiring resuscitative measures.

According to the Board, this ultimately resulted in a persistent vegetative state.

Additionally Davis, failed to communicate his intervention to the patient's assigned nurse and/or document, reports the Board.

CHARGE 3

On January 25, 2018, Davis entered the room of  patient Joseph Kalina, to whom he was not assigned, and performed an unskilled and/or unnecessary and/or inappropriate intervention for the patient.

The Board says about three minutes later, the patient's condition began to deteriorate and a stroke code was initiated requiring resuscitative measures.

The Board says this ultimately resulted in a persistent vegetative state.

When Davis was initially questioned, he admitted to facility management he entered the unidentified patient's room and silenced an IV that was beeping.

Several days later, the Board says Davis told management he reset a beeping IV, flushed the arterial line (thin catheter inserted into an artery) a couple of times and pumped up the pressure bag.

Additionally, Davis failed to communicate his intervention to the patient's assigned nurse and/or document the event, according to the Board.

TEXAS BOARD OF NURSING OFFERS INSIGHT INTO SUSPENSION

KETK reached out to the Texas Board of Nursing with questions pertaining to Davis' suspension order.

The questions and answers on behalf of the Board can be found below.

How is a complaint filed?

Board Rule §213.13(a) states: Complaints shall be submitted to the Board in writing and should contain at least the following information: Nurse/Respondent Name, License Number, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Employer, Dates of Occurrence(s), Description of Facts or Conduct, Witnesses, Outcome, Complainant Identification (Name, Address, and Telephone Number), and Written Instructions For Providing Information to the Board. Complaints may be made on the agency's complaint form.

What information can you provide about the complaint(s) in relation to William George Davis (license #: 799297)?

Staff cannot provide information regarding the complaint(s) as complaints are confidential by law. Confidentiality of complaints is addressed in Tex. Occ. Code §301.466. The Nursing Practice Act states that "[a] complaint and investigation concerning a nurse under this subchapter, all information and material compiled by the board in connection with the complaint and investigation, and the information described by Subsection (d) are: (1) confidential and not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code; ?and (2) not subject to disclosure, discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for release to anyone other than the board or a board employee or agent involved in license holder discipline."

Can you provide a copy of the complaint(s)?

Staff cannot provide information regarding the complaint(s) as complaints are confidential by law. Confidentiality of complaints is addressed in Tex. Occ. Code §301.466. The Nursing Practice Act states that "[a] complaint and investigation concerning a nurse under this subchapter, all information and material compiled by the board in connection with the complaint and investigation, and the information described by Subsection (d) are: (1) confidential and not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code; ?and (2) not subject to disclosure, discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for release to anyone other than the board or a board employee or agent involved in license holder discipline."

How was the suspension request investigated?

Pursuant to Tex. Occ. Code §301.466, the complaint and investigation are confidential and not subject to disclosure.

Can you define intervention? It is used multiple times in the suspension request. Ex. "...and performed an intervention for that patient."

Staff alleges that an intervention performed by Mr. Davis resulted in an unexpected and significant neurological event for the patients listed in the Order of Suspension and the Formal Charges. Nursing interventions consist of any treatment, based upon clinical judgment and knowledge, that a nurse performs to enhance patient/client outcomes. Typically, nursing interventions are aimed at providing beneficial treatments to patients. In this case, the interventions performed by Mr. Davis were not aimed at providing beneficial treatment to patients.

Is the suspension of William George Davis permanent? If not, for how long?

Mr. Davis was suspended on March 16, 2018 by the Board of Nursing under Tex. Occ. Code §301.455. This suspension entitled Mr. Davis to a preliminary hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings not later than the 17th day after the temporary suspension to determine whether probable cause exists that a continuing and imminent threat to the public exists. Mr. Davis waived this hearing which was his opportunity to contest the continued suspension of his license while this case is being decided. Mr. Davis is entitled to a hearing on the merits of the case not later than 61 days after the date of temporary suspension or restrict. This case is currently being scheduled. After the hearing on the merits, the Judge will issue a Proposal for Decision with findings of facts, conclusions of law, and a recommendation for a sanction. This Proposal for Decision will be considered by the Board of Nursing at a quarterly Board Meeting. Mr. Davis's suspension will remain place until the Board of Nursing considers the Proposal for Decision from the State Office of Administrative Hearings at a quarterly Board Meeting. At that time, discipline up to and including revocation may be issued by the Board of Nursing.

 

How many potential victims is the Board of Nursing Aware of? How many remain under investigation and how many have been closed?

Pursuant to Tex. Occ. Code §301.466, any complaint(s) and material or information compiled as a result of an investigation are confidential and not subject to disclosure. Staff has alleged conduct regarding three patients. Staff may amend these charges at a later day to include more patients as additional evidence is gathered.

RAISING FUNDS

GoFundMe page was created on March 23, 2018, in which Davis says his license was temporarily suspended by the Board "for misunderstandings" and now he is having to defend himself before the Board in order to keep his license and his career.

"I am unable to currently work as a RN or nurse practitioner, so my income is very limited," Davis, a husband and father of two young children, writes in the fundraising site's description. "We are currently selling our house to downgrade at this time. I am trying to collect money in an effort to pay for attorney fees to defend me in this matter. I am not the type to do this kind of thing, because I have worked very hard since I was a little, but am humble enough to recognize the significant need for help in this matter."

As of 8:25 a.m., on Wednesday, 58 contributors had donated a combined total of $6,515 of the $10,000 sought by Davis.

However, seven hours later around 3:15 p.m., the GoFundMe had been deactivated.

SUSPICIONS LEAD TO INVESTIGATION

According to the TPD, officials with the CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System reached out to police and the Smith County District Attorney's Office in late January 2018 with concerns a nurse may have been involved in intentionally causing harm to several patients at one of their hospitals.

The hospital system said their suspicions grew after learning patients were experiencing unexplained symptoms inconsistent with their treatment and recovery.

A special criminal investigation team was formed to examine the case in early February 2018.

According to the arrest affidavit, Davis' actions caused the death Greenway on August 6, 2017, (See CHARGE 1 above) the death of another patient, as well as "permanent and debilitating" injuries to five others.

Kalina (See CHARGE 3 above) is in a persistent vegetative state, according to the affidavit. Henderson, who was also a patient connected Davis, has limited mobility and vision. (See CHARGE 2 above)

The document relied on the testimony of police investigators, medical specialists and employees of CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital and the Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital.

The arrest affidavit details the deaths and injuries to seven patients:

1) John Doe 1, 61 - injured June 22, 2017

2) John Doe 2, 58 - injured July 14, 2017

3) Christopher Greenaway, 47 - injured August 4, 2017, died August 8, 2017

4) John Doe 3, 54, - injured August 7, 2017

5) John Doe 4, 56 - injured October 26, 2017

5) Pamela Henderson, 63 - injured November 30, 2017

6) Joseph Kalina, 58 - injured January 25, 2018

All were identified as patients who underwent cardiovascular surgery and were recovering in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) at Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital, "when they suddenly experienced a profound incident," according to the affidavit.

Tyler police say according to staffing and payroll records, Davis was on duty and assigned to the CVICU on the dates of all seven incidents initially reported to the department, adding, "Davis is the only nurse assigned consistently to the CVICU at the date and time of each incident," including when Greenaway experienced his episode

In February, hospital staff and counsel attended a meeting with police investigators.

While hospital officials weren't certain at the time a crime had occurred, there was enough concern about the "significance of the statistical 'anomaly' these incidents represented" to ask for an investigation, according to the affidavit.

Law enforcement then acquired hospital security video footage pertaining to the seven incidents.

In each instance, Davis can be seen entering the patient's room and leaving .

Almost immediately following his exit, the patient suffers a "profound incident" leading to death or permanent injury, according to the arrest affidavit.

Each of the patients, prior to Davis' actions, were "neurologically stable after surgery," the document states. However, they then suffered "a profound medical/neurological emergency" that, to a doctor later consulted by investigators, indicated "air was deliberately introduced into the arterial circulation using the patient's arterial lines," the affidavit said.

CHRISTOPHER GREENAWAY

Greenaway was admitted to the heart hospital on August 2, 2017. He underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery, performed by Dr. William Turner, the next day, to which the affidavit states he came out neurologically intact.

Greenaway was then transferred to the CVICU for recovery.

According to the documents, around 3:00 a.m., the nurse who was assigned to care for Greenaway, identified by the affidavit as Richard "Ben" Raspberry, asked Davis to watch his patient while he went to lunch. Raspberry then left the campus.

Documents state Greenaway suffered an unexpected neurological incident on August 4, 2017, around 3:35 a.m., and Raspberry, upon returning to the hospital, went into the patient's room to assist.

A stroke code was initiated and Dr. Turner ordered a computed tomography scan (CT scan). The scan revealed a pneumocephalus (presence of air) in the cranial cavity.

Despite medical intervention, Greenaway was pronounced dead on on August 8, 2017.

The affidavit shows there was a constant arterial line monitoring of the blood pressure and it appeared stable in the hours preceding Greenaway's neurological deficit.

Citing evidence of Greenway's arterial waveforms, investigators say there was a disturbance on the waveform between 3:30 a.m., and 3:31 a.m., and an interviewee stated Davis was "at or near Greenaway's room at the time of the event."

When interviewed by law enforcement, on February 20, Davis admitted the situation was shocking and Greenaway was doing well. However, Davis told investigators Greenaway became bradycardic (slower than normal heart rate) and he went to check on him. 

When asked if anyones was helping him watch Greenaway, Davis initially said there was no one else, before adding, "it was a long time ago and he could not remember if anyone else was around.," according to the affidavit.

LIFETIME OF SERVICE

Greenaway worked as a pilot for medical transport. He also achieved the U.S. Coast Guard Captains License, PADI Open Water Diver Certificate and National Eagle Scout.

He served in the United States Army earning the following awards:

U.S. Army Aviator Badge

- U.S. Army Aircraft Crewman Badge

- U.S. Army Commendation Medal

- National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star

- Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

- Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star

- Army Service Ribbon

- Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon

- Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” Device

- Armed Forces Reserve Medal with 10-Year Device-Bronze

PAMELA HENDERSON

Henderson was a post-operative CVICU patient following an aortic valve replaced, performed by Dr. Hiep Nguyen, on November 27, 2017.

The affidavit states Henderson came out of surgery with no significant complications and was neurologically sound.

She has also been implemented with an arterial line.

On November 30, 2017, Davis entered Henderson's, and shortly after his departure, police say Henderson sustained an "unexpected profound neurological event."

The primary nurse, who police identify as Korde Smith, went into Henderson's room and noted her arterial line pressure was too high. Emergency medical procedures were then activated.

Officials say there was a disturbance on on Henderson's arterial waveform which was simultaneous with Davis' presence in her room. The disturbance occurred proximate to the time Henderson suffered the acute incident.

Dr. Charlie Crum examined the CT image captured of Henderson's brain after the event revealed air.

Henderson suffered permanent and debilitating injuries as a result of this crisis, according to her medical records. 

Investigators visited with Henderson and noted she has limited mobility and visual problems as a result of her stroke-like injuries. She continues to receive medical care and support for the injuries.

JOSEPH KALINA

On January 24, 2018, Kalina underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery performed by Dr. Turner.

The affidavit states Kalina was transferred to the CVICU, where Davis was assigned.

Police say Davis entered Kalina's room for about a minute and, according to security footage, it appeared the lights were not turned on. 

Approximately three minutes after Davis' departure, police say Kalina suffered a "profound medical/neurological emergency, after having been declared neuorologically intact in his post-operative course.

The affidavit states Davis initially told Deb Chelette, Associate Vice President of Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital, he went into Kalina's room to reset a pump alert showing an "upstream occlusion" on the IV pump. Police say this statement was later discovered to be "untruthful."

Davis did not tell Chelette he provided any nursing care relative to Kalina's arterial line. 

Following a review of Kalina's arterial line waveforms, Chelette became concerned after she discovered an abnormality to the waveform indicating Davis manipulated the arterial line, the affidavit states.

Chelette said Davis did not disclose his presence in Kalina's room prior to his medical emergency to the patient's assigned nurses, Raspberry and Lacy Simpson.

The following Sunday, police say Davis contacted Chelette and admitted he flushed Kalina's arterial line multiple times.

Kalina suffered permanent and debilitating injuries as a result of the medical crisis. 

Investigators traveled to San Antonio to discover Kalina is still bedridden, unable to speak and must be fed.

EXPERT OPINIONS SOUGHT

In March, investigators met with Dr. John Ralston, Chief Forensic Pathologist for Forensic Medical of Texas, and board certified radiologist, Dr. Kennith Layton, who also possesses additional qualifications in neuroradiology, in Dallas, to discuss Greenaway's death and the six other incidents.

Dr. Layton told police the neurological emergencies in the seven cases were not "accidental in nature," adding, "he believes Davis is responsible for causing the neurological injuries/damage done to not only Greenaway, but Henderson and Kalina, as well.

He was also concerned Davis' actions caused injuries to John Doe 2, John Doe 3 and John Doe 4.

Dr. Layton came to the following conclusion based on his medical expertise:

"The series of events described in each of these patients share concerning similarities. Each patient was recovering after open cardiothoracic surgery in expected fashion. They were all extubated, awake and following commands in the cardiac ICU. None of the patients had a focal neurological deficit prior to their rapid decline. Each of the patients had bilateral watershed ischemic infarcts in subsequent brain MRI evaluation. This type of stroke occurs after a prolonged cardiovascular event and/or in patients with sever arterial narrowing, which none of these patients experienced. Even more unusual, is the presence of intra-arterial air emboli in Mr. Greenaway and Ms. Henderson. In the absence of an intracardiac shunt, this air must have been introduced through the patients' radial arterial lines in a forceful manner. The observation of air in these two cases (Greenaway and Henderson) on CT imaging was likely related to the rapid timing of the CT scan after introduction of the intra-arterial air (as intra-arterial air is rapidly resorbed from the blood). Based upon my observations, I must conclude that these patients were intentionally injected with air through their radial artery lines by nurse William Davis. I can find not other logical explanation for the events described above after reviewing the records and information available to me at the time of this report. The actions of nurse Davis led to the death of Mr. Greenaway and the permanent injuries suffered by Ms Henderson and Mr. Kalina. All of my medical opinions are based upon a reasonable of medical certainty."

After examining the case material, Dr. Ralston concluded Greenaway died of an "induced air embolism."

Dr. Ralston released the following findings based on the evidence he reviewed in Greenaway's case:

"The presence of an air embolus in the brain indicates a substantial amount of air entering the aterial circulation from an external source. Such events are possible in cases of severe trauma in which an artery has become damaged and is exposed to air, in cases of decompression sickness (the bends) as seen in divers, or in cases of introduction of a bolus of air through an arterial catheter. Had the source of of the air embolism been venous, then the area affected would have been the pulmonary vasculature, not cerebral. In light of the findings that a number of patients suffered very similar injuries in the same hospital ward over a period of approximately seven months and that some of those patients have evidence of manipulation of their arterial line immediately preceding their own acute cerebral events, the logical conclusion is that the the underlying cause of the events is deliberate introduction of an air embolus into the patients' arterial lines. In view of these findings, the cause of death of Christopher Greenway is cerebral ischemia due to an induced air embolus. The manner of death is homicide."

HOSPITAL SYSTEM RESPONDS

On Wednesday, CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System released the following statement in response to Davis' arrest:

"We learned that William Davis, a registered nurse, has been taken into custody by the Tyler Police Department. Davis was employed by CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital - Tyler from 2013 to 2018.
On January 25, we identified an unusual and unexplained patient outcome in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital - Tyler. Because of our strong commitment to high quality care, we took swift action and performed a review of the circumstances, including reviews of any unanticipated outcomes. This review produced new information that resulted in the immediate removal of nurse William Davis from all patient care responsibilities, and he was terminated by CHRISTUS. We believe the issues with Mr. Davis were isolated to him and he acted independently and of his own accord. Due to concerns arising out of this confidential review, we shared details with the appropriate authorities, including the Texas Board of Nursing and Tyler Police Department. We are actively cooperating with them, as well as working with state and national regulatory and accrediting bodies.

On March 16, 2018, the Texas Board of Nursing summarily suspended Davis's license in accordance with Section 301.455, Texas Occupations Code. The order sets forth three separate charges concerning Mr. Davis's inappropriate interventions for three patients and one charge regarding the falsification of care events and the ethical practice related to the failure to disclose interventions.

We understand that the police investigation is ongoing. Our policies and federal privacy regulations prevent us from sharing patient health information and the specifics of this active police investigation, but CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital - Tyler takes any and all concerns surrounding patient safety and security very seriously and will continue to be proactive to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ."

Chris Glenney, President and Chief Executive Officer of CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital - Tyler also released the following video statement in connection with Davis' case:


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