Bridgewater State Hospital Guards Acquitted In Inmate's Death

BOSTON (WBZ-AM/AP) - Three former guards at a Massachusetts facility that treats the mentally ill in the state criminal justice system have been acquitted of charges in the 2009 death of an inmate with schizophrenia. 

Inmate Joshua Messier of Charlton suffered heart failure when the guards forcefully strapped him to a bed at Bridgewater State Hospital. 

A judge said Monday that the defendants' "conduct" left a lot to be desired, but did not constitute wanton and reckless disregard for Messier's life. 

Boston College law professor Michael Cassidy told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Lana Jones he is not surprised by Judge Jeffrey Locke's verdict.

"I think that they were arguing here that they were poorly trained on hospital policies and there was responsibility higher up from them involved in training and procedures, and that they shouldn't really bear the brunt of other peoples' involvement and malfeasance in this matter," Cassidy said. "And I take it that the judge agreed with them."

Judge Locke concluded the defendants were following standard procedures at the time.

The guards had faced charges including involuntary manslaughter.

The case prompted major changes at the hospital.

"Since this case was brought to light, we no longer house inmates and patients in the same facility," Cassidy said. "We no longer have correctional guards inside the perimeter of the treatment facility, we really have medical personnel, and there's been a lot more discussion about safety and security of inmates."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Lana Jones reports

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