I owe a deep and humble apology to the woman that was shot by Byron. The first time I talked to her was today. I received a call from her today 5/16/2017. She was furious and outraged at what she said was lies and slander written about her, by me, in the letter I sent Gov Inslee on Byron's behalf. She pointed out that I had never contacted her to ask her her side of the story, but simply printed lies.
Sadly I admit I did not contact her. As an advocate, I spent hours talking on the phone to Byron, as well as others, for almost a year. When his health deteriorated so badly he desperately needed dialysis, I wrote the letter below. I read it to Byron and made the corrections he ask me too. He gave the go ahead to send the version below. It never occurred to me to corroborate the story. I felt he was dying and telling me the truth; and I thought it would be too intrusive and re-traumatizing for a stranger to call (his former girlfriend) and ask if there was any way I could help advocate for her.
That said that still leaves me dead wrong and there is no excuse for writing the letter without first and foremost corroborating it and at the very least prefacing those statements with the phrase "according to Byron."
Today I was told by his former girlfriend, it was all lies. She stated she never wrote a letter on his behalf; she DID NOT put anything on his cigarette; she states she now lives with metal in her arm, serious (I believe she said) back injuries; and other severe pain and injury from the six bullets he shot into her. She shared she also suffers from the grief of her uncle that was shot and killed by Byron.
This is a lesson I will never forget. I erred in not giving voice to both sides and I am sure it is retraumatizing to read someone putting words into your mouth after such a horrific experience.
I am willing to remove the letter now or leave it up for another month so that others can see my error and hold me accountable. You can decide. I am also willing to meet you if you would like to talk to me in person.
9211 N.E. 15 Avenue
Vancouver, WA 98665
February 22, 2015
Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Subject: He is going
to die… You can save his life!
Dear Governor Inslee:
Byron Thompson is Dying
Byron Thomson, a patient at Western State Hospital, is near
death. One of his therapist, recognizing
Byron’s definite recovery and the grave threat of imminent death, decided to
advocate personally for a compassionate release to the Review Board (NRB). Her
request, like Byron’s previous requests, was denied. As Governor of the state
of Washington, you have the power to review cases, and where you can see clear
evidence of recovery and a grave injustice occurring, you can order a
compassionate release. Byron deserves such a chance. Although his health is perilously
endangered, perhaps surrounded by friends and family, he can defy the odds and
hold onto life’s thread.
Byron Thomson is near death for medical reasons caused by
the hospital treatments
His kidneys are in the danger zone; a score of
10-15 is indicative of imminent death without dialysis. Byron had healthy
kidneys when he entered the hospital 5 years ago for treatment Today his score
is on the rise and currently is at a 10, a death sentence unless he has dialysis
His anemia has gone so out of control that a
blood transfusion has been discussed. Before entering the hospital for
treatment, he was able to very easily keep his blood iron at normal levels
He is a diabetic. When I began writing this
letter two weeks ago, he was being forced to take too much insulin, at night his
sugar would go so low he felt on the edge of a coma. They refused to lower his
insulin, so he has chosen not to take it. He is now written up for non-compliance.
Before entering the hospital for treatment, he did not have diabetes
While in the hospital, his weight has gone up to
430 is up 230 pounds from when he first entered the hospital over
5 years ago for treatment. This has caused serious complications in every area
of his health and recovery
Even though he was born with a heart condition, cardiomyopathy,
his heart condition has greatly worsened in the last 5 years, during treatment
Except for his heart condition and controlled
anemia, Byron Thompson came here as physically healthy 230 pound man. No kidney
problems, no diabetes, no severe anemia, no dangerously over weight
problems. The above diseases have
developed directly from his treatment.
Byron Thompson Came to Western State Hospital for Help.
Court records will show Byron was a family man. He provided
well for his children who lived with their mother, and his elderly mother and
father. In one instant, over 5 years ago, Byron lost his rational mind, and
shot and killed a friend and wounded his former sweetheart. After the tragedy, when Byron became consciously
aware of what he did, he was in shock, horrified and grieved deeply for the life
he had taken and the serious injury inflicted on his former sweetheart. He, nor
the doctor, nor friends and family could explain his actions. Byron did not
take street drugs, nor was he known for enraging or jealous behavior. He had a
few minor misdemeanors, but other than that his record was clean. Although, no definitive
direct intentional cause was ever legally established, the survivor, his former
girlfriend, wrote letters, begged, pleaded on his behalf and refused to testify
against him, because, in her own words she stated she put pcp, an
hallucinogenic, on the end of his cigarette, and that was what caused his
aberrant behavior. Her pleas and letters
fell on deaf ears and was never entered into the court records. It was so out
of character for Byron that an expert was flown in to determine what caused
this aberrant and fatal behavior.
Whatever happened, Byron knew he needed help. He had taken
the life of another human being and seriously injured another, he never wanted
to repeat that horror again. The doctors report and court decision were clear;
Byron did not take a life and injure another with malicious or premeditated
intent. He was not guilty of any degrees of statutory murder. He was not guilty
because in that moment he was not in his right mind. Not Guilty by reason of
insanity. He needed help.
He was ordered and desired to receive treatment at Western
State Hospital because…
He was told that they could help him recover.
He was told, the law demanded that he would
receive an evaluation in 6 months to determine if he was recovered and ready
He was told that if his recovery took longer, the
law demanded he could at least go before the Release Board (NRB) every 6 months
to determine if he was recovered and ready for release.
It Has Been Five
That was 5 years ago. Byron has been before the review board 2 times in 5 years , not the 10 times the
law requires. His other request to appear before the board, to have his legal
rights honored, have been denied over and over. Nevertheless, the two times in
5 years he was allowed to go before the board for release he was denied. The
expert doctor that was flown in and diagnosed him as temporarily insane, flew
in to evaluate Byron again a few months ago. He has
said that Byron has recovered and does not need treatment any longer. He
is currently writing an in depth report in support of Byron’s release. Byron
has no recorded incidence of violence in these 5 years. However, he, like
others, have had to defend themselves against violent patients on his floor more
Most recently, in his very fragile medical state, he was
attacked by a patient with a sharp object that punctured his temple; had it
been 1 inch closer he would have lost his eye. Byron was told that after he collapsed from
the attack and lay in shock, this patient kicked him in the head several times.
Due to this most recent attack, he now adds to his current medical conditions,
a head wound and a concussion.
M.O.M.S. Movement Of Mother-others
I am Cynthia Fisher, a resident of Vancouver, WA. I am the Founder
and Director of M.O.M.S. (the /Movement/
Of /Mothers-and-others /Standing-up-together /reclaiming our loved ones and
creating communities where hearts can heal). In 2014, Rob Wipond, an award
winning Canadian Journalist, interviewed me. He chronicled my personal journey
with my son, Siddharta. Our story included Western State Hospital. Here is the link to that story http://www.madinamerica.com/2014/03/mother-banned-treatment-team/_.
Byron had heard of my advocacy through another patient and reached out to me. I
began recording his story over two years ago.
Pictures of humiliation, persecution and abuse Etched Forever in My
Byron Thomson is now near death, and it is just not for
medical reasons; it is because as a human, his Spirit has been beaten and almost
broken, under the guise of “treatment for recovery”. You are his last hope. At
best, he will be released and perhaps medically regain some of his health, at
worst he will be able to at least spend the remainder of his days with respect
and dignity among friends and family. His greatest fear is he will die in a
humiliated, beaten state, still confined within the walls of Western State
Of the hours of stories I have recorded of Byron describing his treatment at Western
State hospital, most of which he has written in grievances and reported to
senior staff; the ones below have been recorded
and etched permanently in my mind as pictures of humiliation, abuse, and
horrific abuse of power over and over again by more than one WSH staff member.
These are the pictures:
His father and brother arrive for a visit.
His younger brother is a college student and his father is a longtime minister.
There is nothing in either one’s history suggestive of any criminal record. Near
the beginning of their visit, a staff member calls security requesting a strip
search of Byron. The staff informed the
officers that they thought the father had smuggled drugs into Byron. Security
arrived in force, rudely ordered his elder father and younger brother to stay
seated, meanwhile they ordered Byron into a room to be stripped naked for a
rectal cavity search. The accusations of himself and his younger son, the humiliation
and abuse of each of them was too much for this elder father and he has never
returned. Other visits from his family members has been equally humiliating in
other ways. Their visits are few and far between now because of this
On a medical trip to be evaluated for dialysis
Byron is handcuffed. The driver refuses
to release the handcuffs for Byron to use the bathroom. Unable to clean
himself, Byron is forced to ride the long trip home sitting in his feces. He has no history of violence in his 5 years
at the hospital. He has no history of mental illness. Only the one instance 5
years ago, of a tragic moment of insanity.
On a trip to the funeral of his grandmother, the
beloved woman who raised him, again he is handcuffed. The traffic is heavy and
they arrive late, and although not required the driver insist on leaving almost
immediately. Byron arrived, grieved, and left in handcuffs, all in 15 minutes, while
his beloved children, grieving for the loss of their Nanna, watched and witnessed
the humiliating and degrading treatment of their father.
On another medical trip, in this fragile medical
condition, the handcuffs were again placed on him. A visual glance on any prior
trip should have identified the danger in this scenario. Weighing a little less
than 400 pounds, he as usual, had difficulty stepping up on the van; he
slipped, tearing tendons and muscles in his knee. This serious accident required
surgery, and Byron now often walks with a limp.
Being handcuffed in such a manner when being transported has since been prohibited
by the state legislature; so the hospital, “in its resourcefulness,” now uses 4
inch leather straps, in the exact same restraining position as the handcuffs,
but much more visible. They are just as equally dangerous and restraining to
patients loading and unloading from a van, and humiliating if the driver
chooses to not remove them.
As a very gifted artist, Byron entered the
hospital art contest. All patients of the hospital were eligible to enter. As
you may know many people diagnosed with disabilities are quite gifted and
talented in the arts. Byron’s entry won first place. And yet; given no history
of violence or threats of violence, all of his arts supply were suddenly taken
away and without notice or valid treatment reason given. They were never
returned. Later, in a “treatment class”, he and a few others were forced to
color a kindergarten level paper of a man playing a saxophone, and another
paper on which was a picture of a saxophone only. As kindergartners would do,
he was forced to color both pictures, cut the saxophone in sections and paste
it on the saxophone of the first paper. These pictures were put on display with
each person’s name written on it for all the ward to see. You can imagine the
heckling, insults, and humiliation that followed.
The side effect of the medication Byron has been
forced to take to recover, caused him at one time during his “treatment” to
gain 230 pounds, and swelled his ankles to the size of normal thighs. After this very rapid and huge increase in his
weight he requested a different medication that was not on the hospital
formulary. He made this request often and with increasing urgency as his conditioned
worsened on many levels and his weight increased almost astronomically. He was
so filled with fluid that he was forced to go to a special hospital clinic weekly
to go through the painful procedure of having the liquids squeezed out of his
legs twice a week. His painful request that turned into pleas, were constantly
denied. Finally, at a very dangerous 430 pounds he was able to go off the
grounds to an outpatient doctor; he basically pleaded with the doctor to change
his medication because it was literally killing him. It was during this period
that his kidneys were being destroyed both by the medication and the weight
gain. With the threat of his death a real possibility he was given a different
medication; within the short time span of one month, he had urinated over 80
pounds of fluid.
When it was clear that Byron now had only 10%
use of his kidneys and would die without dialysis, he initially chose to refuse
dialysis. Why would a patient in a hospital for recovery choose death? Because
although the technology and equipment for allowing dialysis to be done in the privacy of one’s own room
exist, the hospital is demanding that he be transported, while handcuffed,
twice a week to receive dialysis. He begged to have it in his room, as he knows
how to do it and he would not have to face whatever abuse and humiliation his
drivers choose to inflict on him. Senior staff denied his request. The hospital
can charge Medicare $20,000 for his weekly outpatient visits. The hospital can
only charge $5000 for the more humane, respectful, less risky in-hospital
But finally, still holding onto a
thin thread of life, Byron recently decided to have the surgery; to have the
stint put in his arm, preparing for outpatient dialysis. The process was very painful
and his arm became severely infected. He had a high fever, intense pain, and
was excused by the doctor from attending all classes. Despite the doctor’s
orders, Byron’s levels were dropped because he did not attend classes. All of his electronic property in his room
was removed by his new therapist. She recently had volunteered to be his
therapist. After direct advocacy from the doctor again, his electronics they
were returned, but taken again the very next day by the same therapist without
warning or reason given. On Christmas Eve, his new therapist entered his room
and told him he would never get his property back. She said that the Sony stereo
speakers were made of steel. In reality, they were regular standard plastic 6 inch
speakers. Byron, again, who has no record of violence for the 5 years, reminded
his “treatment team” that all of his items, as did everyone else’s, had to be
approved by them before he could even order them, so why all of a sudden were
they considered dangerous? They all were also strip-tied and screwed down. In
addition why were other patients allowed to freely walk around with electronic
and acoustic/guitars for hours afterclasses.
Prior to the removal of his property Byron had
managed to get his blood pressure under control after the surgery, the
infection, and the attack. He stayed in his room and played his music, watched DVDs
and kept to himself. His attacker was/is still on the floor, free to roam, and
Byron, besides being so medically fragile, wanted to avoid any possible future
attacks. After all of his electronic equipment was removed, he had/has only the
4 walls. Others still have their electronic equipment. From forced boredom, hopelessness,
humiliation and persecution, his blood pressure now spikes dangerously high.
And to try and get his levels back, you will now find Byron painfully limping down
the hall to the treatment mall for classes he has been medically excused for, suffering
through class, and suffering through the tormenting comments from other
patients about his weight, his slowness, and his race. This, to try to “earn”
back his personal property. No, in reality, this, to save his life… He says
very faintly to me, ”I can’t last much longer here.”
On February 13, 2015,
I am told he has received even more sanctions. He says “They have broken me, I
cannot talk tonight.” He is being cautioned and threatened with more punitive
measures if he “continues to complain to outside sources.” Byron has followed
the correct procedures to file complaints and grievances over and over again,
most times only to be ignored or to have the staff, or others retaliate, or
reverse decisions that remedied the grievances shortly after the wrongs had
been corrected. He says the good staff, the compassionate ones, the caring
ones; most of them leave after a year or so, or are forced out by the long
timers. The proof is that today he is close to death, almost completely
stripped of his humanity, and most staff that advocated for him over the years
are no longer there.
I have been told by many that the phones are tapped. Am I
the one they are accusing him of talking to, “the outsider”? Again today, Saturday evening, February 21,
2015, at about 7:00 pm, he is being surrounded as he talks on the phone, even
though we have only been talking a few minutes. He confides in me that a staff
confirmed privately to him a few days ago, that he is being targeted even more now that our
conversations are strictly about advocating to stop his abuse!. Will he live to
be granted a compassionate release?
Byron has recovered. Byron deserves to
live. Byron deserves to go home.
I have been recording stories of Byron’s abuse and
retaliation for filing grievances and complaints for 2 years. Knowing
personally how difficult it is to fight for the dignity and real treatment for
my son, regrettably, I have delayed and quite honestly been at a loss of how to
advocate for Byron. The man he shot was African American, but the former
girlfriend was white and I am certain the extreme persecution and targeting of
Byron was/is also partially racially motivated. However, now my continued delay
could become a death sentence for Byron. I don’t know what the best strategy
is, but I will turn to you, the servant of the people. Byron has recovered.
Byron deserves to live. Byron deserves to go home. It is with the utmost
urgency, Governor Inslee, that I am asking you to intervene to save his life
and stop the persecution. It is not enough to demand the mistreatment stop. As
you saw with mandates from congress about banning the use of handcuffs, there
just are too many ways to work around those who wish to abuse their power. Please grant Byron Thompson a compassionate
release to go home.
Although, I am requesting an email reply to [email protected], I am
praying that I will know before then. I am praying that I will call him and in
the next 2 week, he, no doubt with a crack in his voice, will tearfully say “I’m
going home, tell Governor Inslee thank you for saving my life.”
Please Governor Inslee Save Byron Thompson’s Life!
Founder, Director of M.O.M.S.
The Gov's aide said that the governor does not have any power over DSHS, who is the governing power of the hospital. Thus there is no real oversight. I wrote another letter months letter describing what Byron felt was retaliation, for trying to get help. He was taken from the hospital on a hospital gurney after suffering from what he described as food poisoning. He no longer will eat from the specialized food trays that have his name on them. He eats the general diet, for fear of further retaliation.