Like most of the severely disabled residents at the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in southern Illinois, Todd Clementz stuck to a routine: Deaf, blind and requiring constant supervision, he passed his days with meals, therapy and an evening bath.
But in late March, Clementz’s routine was disrupted when a worker at the state hospital gave him an unscheduled shower, during which the 46-year-old man choked to death. A jury in a coroner’s inquest last month ruled his death a homicide. […]
Tom Hatley, a state police investigator, testified at the coroner’s inquest that the mental health technician who gave Clementz the shower told him that Clementz had missed his regularly scheduled bath “because he was exhibiting a behavior.”
Other workers testified that the forced shower was meant to help keep Clementz from going to sleep earlier than scheduled.
Within minutes, Clementz began choking on the cold water being sprayed from a hand-held shower wand, the trooper testified. His lips turned blue as he became unconscious and went into cardiac arrest. An autopsy determined Clementz died from choking on cold water as well as regurgitated food.
“This gentleman was waterboarded,” said Tony Pauluski, executive director of The ARC of Illinois, an advocacy group that wants the state to close all of its developmental centers by 2020.
Hatley said several co-workers of the technician — who is at least 6 feet tall and about 250 pounds — said he had previously given forced showers to discipline uncooperative residents. The trooper said he wasn’t able to independently corroborate those accounts.