, Muskogee, OK

February 15, 2013

Hospital patient arrested in tussle

Guard alleges he ‘chomped’ on her thumb

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— A Muskogee man is being held without bond after an alleged attack on a Muskogee County sheriff’s deputy working as a security guard at EASTAR Health System.

David Crawford, 65, was arrested on complaints of aggravated assault and battery and maiming, but Muskogee County District Attorney Larry Moore said the final charges would likely be different.

Crawford allegedly attacked Deputy Rae Lea Spears on Tuesday night in the hospital’s Behavioral Health Unit. Spears said Crawford bit her thumb and wrestled with her after she grabbed him, believing that he was about to jump on a nurse.

Moore said he expected Crawford to be charged next week with assault and battery on emergency medical security personnel, a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to one year in prison.

Spears said Crawford attacked her after she tried to calm him down following an outburst in which Crawford began to trash a day room in the Behavioral Health Unit.

“They were trying to put a nightgown on him — he was sitting there naked — and he wouldn’t put it on,” Spears said. “I was trying to talk to him, to build a rapport, and was asking him to put some clothes on and clean up his mess.”

Spears said that during this conversation, a nurse leaned over to pick up a pen she had dropped.

“(Crawford) got up like he was going to jump on her, so I grabbed him,” Spears said. “He grabbed a hold of my hand and bit down on my thumb. He chomped on it like it was a carrot stick.”

Spears said Crawford was taken to the floor but still had her thumb in his mouth. A nearby nursing supervisor grabbed Spears’ hand and yanked it free. One of Crawford’s teeth came out as well.

“I guess I’m lucky he had bad teeth,” Spears said. “Because he was definitely not letting go.”

Spears said she suffered skin damage to her thumb and a fractured knee.

“I’m going back in a couple days to be examined,” she said. “They said I might need an MRI on my knee, but they won’t know until then. But, it’s fractured.”

No bond had been set for Crawford as of Friday, although Moore said prosecutors anticipated requesting a $5,000 bond.

A request for a mental health evaluation would be up to Crawford and his attorney, Moore said.

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or