The Connecticut Department of Developmental Services is bringing back several of its disabled patients after allegations of abuse at a Florida rehabilitation facility.
Hidden camera video shows two Florida Institute of Neurological Rehabilitation (FINR) employees sitting by patient Danny Silva and repeatedly hitting him with punches and elbows.
Silva, 21, is a Connecticut resident who was sent to FINR for special care.
An employee secretly filmed the event.
"Those videos were terrible. Just atrocious. I think we have an underlying problem of people with disabilities being disrespected and treated with no values," said Terrence Macy, Department of Developmental Services Commissioner.
A witness told investigators the two men struck Silva multiple times over a two hour time frame.
Landrey Johnson and Lakevin Johnson pleaded not guilty to criminal charges of abuse. They denied intentionally striking the victim and told investigators they used their hands to keep Silva from hitting himself.
The news hit Eddie Jakobowski of Bristol especially hard. His daughter, Melinda, was a patient at FINR and was found unresponsive in her bed last year and died.
"I would have never sent her there if I had read the reports on this place," Jakobowski said. "I listened to what the doctors told me."
A spokesperson for FINR could not provide details on Melinda’s passing due to privacy, but said in isolated instances, extenuating medical circumstances have resulted in the loss of a patient.
Jakobowski has since filed a lawsuit with Connecticut's Office of the Claims Commissioner.
Connecticut often sends disabled patients to other states for a chance at receiving better care or care that Connecticut is unable to give.
But the state is making changes.
The Department of Developmental Services said it plans to pull at least four of its disabled residents out of the Florida rehab center and bring them back to Connecticut.
"These folks have some pretty challenging behaviors and if we had the capacity to serve them, they'd be here and that's in fact what the state is trying to do, we're trying to bring people back from out of state, not just this facility, but other facilities as well," Macy said.
FINR told the Troubleshooters in a statement that it has been "working with Connecticut officials over the course of the past few months to discharge several patients from FINR as these patients conditions have vastly improved as a result of the care they were given at FINR and are now well enough to be transferred to a facility in Connecticut that provides a lower level of care."
Johnson and Johnson, meanwhile, are awaiting trial. FINR says they were immediately terminated and the facility turned over the cellphone video as well as security camera footage to law enforcement.