ANDERSON — An Anderson man was arrested Saturday on a warrant on suspicion of deliberately coughing on a nurse at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital after claiming he might be positive for COVID-19.
According to a probable cause affidavit prepared by Anderson Police Department investigator Steve Denny, James D. Walker, 40, 1600 block of Brown Street, was charged with Level 6 felony battery against a public safety officer.
Walker appeared in the emergency room in the early morning hours of April 8, claiming a friend had died of COVID-19 two days earlier and that he was coughing and experiencing shortness of breath, according to the affidavit.
During the exam, nurse practitioner Tiffany Godfrey asked whether Walker had been drinking after she detected alcohol on his breath.
“The suspect stated that he had and that he was also having stomach cramps and that his doctor had stopped prescribing him suboxone,” it said.
When Godfrey said she was going to order a test to make sure Walker wasn’t dehydrated, he questioned why she didn’t order “the m— test,” which she took to mean a COVID-19 test. When Godfrey explained to Walker that he didn’t meet the criteria, he allegedly pulled down his mask and coughed in her face.
“The victim explained in her statement that she was wearing a hair bonnet, goggles, and her N95 mask but felt his breath on her exposed forehead and also felt spit or phlegm from the cough,” the affidavit said. “The victim was very upset by the deliberate action of the suspect and started walking out of the room.”
While she left to order some lab work, Walker was reported by other hospital staff as seen leaving the hospital.