Tarhe mother and father of Nicholas Provenza, who was shot and killed by a police officer after he escaped from Largo Medical Center, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital.
In May 2017, police committed Provenza to Largo Medical Center because he was in the middle of a psychotic break. However, he managed to escape from the hospital and was wandering freely outside. When his father, Charlie Provenza, found out, he drove all around Largo looking for him. Unfortunately, 18 hours later, he found out that his son was shot and killed by a police officer.
Nicholas Provenza was at a charity car show in downtown Tarpon Springs when police officer Scott MacIsaac confronted him. He heard reports that Provenza was bothering customers at a nearby shop. MacIsaac saw Provenza reach into his pocket and pull out a homemade shank. Provenza didn’t listen to the officer’s request to drop it and lunged toward him. MacIsaac shot him three times.
Provenza had schizoaffective disorder: bipolar type, a mental disorder with symptoms including paranoia, delusions and severe mood swings. He had been admitted to the hospital for his illness more than two dozen times before.
Provenza’s father and mother believe that if he was properly supervised at the hospital, he wouldn’t have escaped through an ambulance bay door and walked around freely in a psychotic state for 18 hours.
The 25-year-old wasn’t in the psychiatric unit where he should have been place. Instead, he was in the emergency room and watched by a nurse. When the nurse stepped away to do something else, he managed to escape in just his hospital gown and boxers.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Charlie Provenza said. “Your son is taken away in a police car in handcuffs. You think that level of security follows through to where he’s medicated and stable at the hospital.”
Provenza’s family want to see changes implemented to the hospital policies.
“That’s the purpose of the lawsuit,” Lance Block, the family’s lawyer, said. “It sends a message to this facility to take this type of situation seriously, and it sends a message to other facilities around the state that if you’re going to … hold yourself out as an institution capable of providing Baker Act services, then the public has a right to take you at your word at it.”