Surveillance video of attack on vulnerable adult was taped over

Updated: October 31, 2019 06:40 PM

A former caregiver at an assisted living facility in northern Minnesota is under criminal investigation after he attacked a man with severe mental and physical disabilities, according to the Pine County Attorney's office.

But the case is missing a key piece of evidence: the surveillance video that the facility's owner failed to save.


The attack happened last May at the Elderwood of Hinckley, the assisted living facility where David Beaulieu was living.

"I thought I was going to be a dead man," Beaulieu recounted of the attack. "I was bleeding all over."

According to a state Department of Health report, a nurse aide at the facility slammed Beaulieu to the ground, and then proceeded to punch him multiple times in the head because Beaulieu "wouldn't stop talking crap."

A photograph taken by a police officer at the hospital shows Beaulieu bleeding profusely.

Beaulieau admitted in an interview that he has a short temper, due in part to bipolar disorder. On the morning of the incident, he said he was swearing at the staff because he wanted his inhaler and they wouldn't give it to him. That triggered a profanity-laced tirade by Beaulieau, who said he then tried to go after one of the staff members.

Attorney Ryan Simafranca, who represents Beaulieu and his family, acknowledges that Beaulieu instigated the attack but says the facility was well aware and equipped to handle his outbursts.

"It's part of his care plan," Simafranca said. "They know what to do. The plan is to calmly talk to him. You don't yell back and try to escalate things. You sit him down, distract him, and you let him cool off."

During the state's investigation, the nurse aide said that he threw Beaulieu to the ground to protect the staff.

According to the state's report, obtained by 5 INVESTIGATES, owner Ron Ausmus defended his employee, saying that the nurse aide was "reacting naturally, not deliberately hitting the client."

But he did not save the tape that could back up his version of events.

Ausmus admitted to investigators that he watched the incident but didn't preserve the recording. The electronic system, he said, is on an automatic three-day loop.

"That's just unacceptable by anyone's' standards," Simafrana said.

He just filed a lawsuit this week against Ausmus and his wife, Laura, who is also an owner. The lawsuit also names the nurse aid who attacked Beaulieu and another aide who is accused of allowing the attack to happen.

The suit alleges medical malpractice, neglect of supervision or training, assault, and destruction of evidence.

Ausmus declined an interview with 5 INVESTIGATES, but via text message, said, "things get taken out of context" and that "we work very hard to make our facility a nice and safe place."

Despite the state substantiating the abuse, the nurse aide was initially not punished for assaulting Beaulieu, but 5 INVESTIGATES learned that he was fired earlier this fall.

The state health department has a division that investigates these types of complaints. If you see abuse, neglect, or an unexplained injury, you're urged to contact the Office of Health Facility Complaints on their website or call 651-201-4201.

Ryan Raiche can be reached by phone at 651-642-4544 or by email here.

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Ryan Raiche

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