Patient From Citrus Center for Adolescent Treatment Died at a Hospital, Attorney Says

The death followed the release of a video showing another patient being punched in the face by a police officer

There are new concerns about a Pembroke Pines psychiatric facility for teens with serious mental health issues.

A day after a video was released showing a patient at Citrus Center for Adolescent Treatment being punched in the face by a police officer, one of its patients died at a local hospital, an attorney for Citrus said.

A grandmother of a patient currently at Citrus who did not want her name used spoke with NBC 6.

"He said Grandma there was a death. A little boy died, and he was truly upset, and he said, you know, he said I'm going to have to watch my back now. Or I need to stop eating the food because they said he had a stomachache, and he never returned back from the hospital," said the grandmother.

An attorney for Citrus, Leslie Veiga, confirmed the pediatrician on site referred a patient to a local hospital, where the patient passed away on Friday.

"The cause of death is unknown pending an autopsy. No foul play is suspected. It was very unexpected and sudden,” Veiga said.

She also said the pediatrician determined the child was not contagious, so there is no concern for other patients.

The grandmother who spoke with NBC 6 said she has other concerns for her grandson.

"He's been in there since November last year and he's not getting any better. He's being exposed to more things than if he was at home with us,” she said.

She was outraged by the video released last Thursday of a female patient being punched and pepper-sprayed by a police officer. Several agencies said they are investigating allegations about the use of physical and chemical restraints at Citrus.

State Rep. Katie Edwards sent an email to the chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee requesting a special hearing.

After learning of the death of a patient, Edwards said, "I am appalled. This reaffirms why the HHS Committee needs to hold a hearing on this issue as soon as possible.”

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