York City mayor: 'I want answers' in York Hospital incident
York City Mayor Michael Helfrich said he is reviewing an incident in which city police officers arrested the mother of a homicide victim outside York Hospital's emergency department after she was denied entry to the hospital.
"I have asked for a complete timeline of what happened," he told The York Dispatch on Friday, April 27. "I've requested all footage ... from our police (body) cameras and from the hospital."
York Hospital staff members refused to let the parents of 18-year-old homicide victim Nylik Moore see his body or enter the hospital on Tuesday, April 24.
They told a York County deputy coroner she was not allowed to let the family view the body, then told her she would have to break that news to Moore's family, York County Coroner Pam Gay has said.
Gay said, in the past, that decision has been left up to her office, in consultation with York Hospital staff.
York Hospital administration has apologized and said they are reviewing their policies and working with the coroner to create a procedure to follow.
'Deeply sorry': "These are our patients and our neighbors, and we’re deeply sorry for the pain they’re experiencing," Shelly Buck said in an emailed statement. She is vice president, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer for WellSpan York Hospital.
Moore's mother, Cheirha Rankins, was arrested on hospital property and taken to the county's central booking unit in handcuffs, where she and three others were cited with disorderly conduct.
Rankins told The York Dispatch that all she was doing was crying because she was grief-stricken.
Cellphone video of the incident shows a chaotic scene, with people screaming and crying.
York City Police have said those summary citations — akin in seriousness to parking tickets — were withdrawn pending further investigation, to determine whether criminal charges should be filed instead and if so, against whom.
Mayor's plan: Helfrich on Friday said he wants to review all the video footage, as well as a timeline of the incident "from the second Nylik got to the hospital until after there was a commotion."
He said he wants to see "how every individual involved acted."
He said because he wasn't there, he needs to know all the facts before reaching any conclusions.
"I want answers now, but that's not how investigations work," the mayor said. "So I'm frustrated. ... That's why I did the only thing in my power (at this point), which was to help the family feel better."
Helfrich said he met with Rankins and other members of Moore's family over dinner at Central Family Restaurant Friday to discuss the family's concerns.
He said he briefed them on his meeting earlier Friday with hospital administration.
"I was very pleased (with that meeting)," the mayor said. "The hospital spent hours with us today."
Helfrich acknowledged he has little experience with these types of investigations, but said he intends to learn everything he can.
"I don't know what the investigation is going to result in," he said. "But I'm going to fight to make sure people are always treated equally and with respect ... and to make sure this will never happen again."
Extensive video footage: He said he will review footage from the 12 to 15 police body cameras that recorded portions of the incident and has requested the hospital share with him security video of what happened.
Helfrich said he met with Rankins' brother, Anthony Rankins, earlier in the week.
Anthony Rankins previously told The York Dispatch about the meeting, and said he also was at Friday's Central Family Restaurant meeting.
"We appreciate Mr. Helfrich doing his best to figure out what went wrong on both ends of the situation," he said. "And my family appreciates him ... looking at everything and keeping us informed."
Rankins said family members feel a slight sense of relief to know the location of Moore's body.
He said they listened to what the mayor had to say, took notes and are watching for a solution to be put in place so no other parents are denied access to deceased loved ones.
Anyone with information about Moore's homicide is urged to call police at 717-846-1234, or anonymously text "Yorktips" and your information to 847-411. Or submit tips through the York City PD app.
Funds are being raised to help offset the costs of Moore's funeral services. Go to www.gofundme.com/send-nylik-home-properly for more information or to donate.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.