Man sentenced to probation for disruption at hospital

Posted 6/6/19

A man who caused a drunken disturbance at Powell Valley Hospital in late December has been ordered to serve one year of unsupervised probation.

Thomas E. Larson, 28, reportedly chased a nurse with …

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Man sentenced to probation for disruption at hospital


A man who caused a drunken disturbance at Powell Valley Hospital in late December has been ordered to serve one year of unsupervised probation.

Thomas E. Larson, 28, reportedly chased a nurse with an IV stand and shut himself in an elderly patient’s room before being subdued by a Powell police officer. He’s also suspected to have gotten into a confrontation with a nearby resident hours before the incident at the hospital.

The Park County Attorney’s Office initially charged Larson with a felony count of aggravated assault, but reduced it to a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangering as part of a plea deal. Under the agreement, Larson pleaded guilty to the endangering as well as misdemeanor counts of property destruction and breach of peace.

District Court Judge Bill Simpson accepted the arrangement, crediting Larson for the day-and-a-half he served in jail after his arrest and suspending another 364 days of jail time in favor of probation. Thomas also must pay $600 in court fees and assessments and $446.50 in restitution for damage caused at the hospital. The sentence was imposed at a May hearing and finalized in a Monday order.

Defense attorney Sarah Miles said Thomas plans to pay the full amount he owes by the end of the week. Miles said he’s taken responsibility for his actions and is trying to make amends.

“He [Thomas] was just appalled at his own behavior,” Miles said, describing him as “one of the most remorseful clients I’ve ever had.”

After his arrest, Thomas “sought out some things because this type of behavior is just so wildly out of character for him,” Miles said. She described the mechanical engineer as timid, mild-mannered and quiet.

“Never in a million years could you picture him behaving this way,” Miles said.

Charging documents say the incident began around 3 a.m. on Dec. 30, when a Powell Valley Hospital nurse heard a banging sound coming from the hallway. The male nurse spotted Larson, who yelled, “Hey, a—hole, come on,” and then barricaded himself in an equipment room.

Larson later came out wielding a metal IV stand and chased the frightened nurse down a hallway before shutting himself in an elderly woman’s room, charging documents say.

That’s where Larson was when Powell Police Sgt. Chad Miner arrived and forced the door open.

“When it opened, the man [Larson] jumped out from behind the door, screamed at me and he was holding a pipe or metal object in both hands,” Miner testified at a preliminary hearing; the officer also said in an affidavit that “I was certain he [Larson] was about to strike me.”

Miner used a palm strike to knock Larson to the floor — with some drywall and blinds broken in the process — “at which point he gave up,” the officer said.

A portable breath test later estimated Larson’s blood alcohol content at around 0.21 percent, which is well over two times the point at which someone is considered too drunk to drive.

“He was quite intoxicated and none of the statements he made made any sense of any kind,” Miner said in court. “He didn’t know where he was, he didn’t know how he got there. He didn’t know what he was doing there.”

Police later found Larson’s Toyota RAV4 parked in an alley on Shoshone Street, a couple blocks away from the hospital.

A resident there told police that he’d been followed home by the RAV4 around midnight. A male — suspected to be Larson — then reportedly got out of the vehicle and confronted the resident, asking, “Do you know me?”

“[The resident] stated he chased the male off and didn’t know where he went,” Officer David Ferguson wrote in a report on the incident.

It was a few hours later that Larson was arrested at the nearby hospital.

As part of his year-long probationary period, Larson must obey the law, abstain from alcohol and stay out of bars.

County prosecutors had run into some difficulties with the case: In February, Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters threw out the original aggravated assault charge; he ruled that the state didn’t have enough evidence to show that Larson had attempted to cause bodily injury with a drawn deadly weapon (the metal IV stand). Miles argued during the preliminary hearing that, “There was no testimony that Mr. Larson did anything with that metal rod.”

Judge Waters did allow prosecutors to refile the aggravated assault charge under a different subsection of the law — finding there was enough evidence to allege that Larson had threatened to use a drawn deadly weapon.

However, Miles said that in her review of all the materials, “the facts and circumstances of the case were better suited to the amended charge [of reckless endangerment] than they were to the original aggravated assault.”

She added that, “I think the affidavit [used to support the charges] made it sound worse.”

Court documents and police records show Sgt. Miner had recommended that prosecutors also charge Larson with a felony count of assaulting a peace officer, but the county attorney’s office did not do so. Deputy Park County Attorney Mike Greenwood declined to comment on the case.