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happyworld - After Two Women Turned Off Their Brother’s Life Support, A Knock At The Door Left Them Speechless

Alfonso Bennett’s family are being asked to make the most agonising of decisions. In front of them, in a hospital bed, lies their badly injured relative who shows no sign of waking up. And after weighing up all the facts, they heartbreakingly opt to switch off his life support. But just as his life slips away, little do they know that, sometimes, the dead never really leave us.
In late April 2019 a brutally beaten – and entirely naked man – was discovered by Chicago police under a vehicle. The unconscious victim was taken to the city’s Mercy Hospital where he was initially recorded as a “John Doe.” Indeed, the patient had been so badly disfigured that medical staff struggled to identify him.
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However, with the help of police, the hospital eventually managed to discover just who the mystery man was. Yes, he was Alfonso Bennett, an individual who had previously been reported missing. Interestingly, cops had identified him with the help of a mug shot they’d taken following an alleged crime. Mistakenly, a witness at the scene had told police he was called “Elijah Bennett.”
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As a result, Rosie Brooks, one of Bennett’s four sisters, got the call that any family member would dread. Speaking to CBS, Brooks recalled, “She identified herself as Jennifer from Mercy Hospital. She was a social worker. She was looking for relatives of Alfonso Bennett, and I told her that was my brother. And she said, ‘Well, he’s here in ICU (intensive care unit)’.”
So Brooks and two of her sisters rushed to the Mercy Hospital & Medical Center where they found their horrifically injured brother. “They had him on the ventilator, and they had a tube in his mouth,” Brooks told CBS. However, the sisters all sensed that something wasn’t quite right from the offset.
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Indeed, Bennett’s sisters suspected that the severely injured man lying unconscious in the hospital bed wasn’t their estranged brother after all. And they reportedly expressed such doubts to medical professionals at every opportunity. However, each and every time the sisters’ concerns were raised, staff allegedly dismissed them. Surely the family were just in denial?
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Image: WGN-TV
Image: WGN-TV
Well, the doctors apparently weren’t prepared to entertain the idea that the man they were treating was someone else entirely. According to reports, they repeatedly told the three siblings that they were simply in denial due to their grief. In fact, court documents showed that the sisters were told outright that they “needed to accept it.”
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Image: WGN-TV
Image: WGN-TV
In a later interview, Rosie Brooks told journalists about her numerous attempts to seek official confirmation about the man’s identity. “I said, ‘how did you all verify this was my brother?’,” Brooks explained. “In my heart I could not recognize him.” What’s worse, the issue was muddied further because the sisters hadn’t seen Alfonso for quite some time. As often happens in families, they’d become estranged.
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
“They kept saying CPD (Chicago Police Dept.) identified this person as our brother,” another sister, Brenda Bennett-Johnson, told CBS. However, the siblings were left concerned about the identification method that police had used. Indeed, reportedly due to budget constraints, the far more reliable technique of fingerprinting was overlooked in favor of mugshots.
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
An understandably irate Bennett-Johnson added, “You don’t identify a person through a mugshot versus fingerprints. Fingerprints [carry] everything.” Remarkably however, the sisters were left with no choice but to assume that the seriously ill man was their brother. And soon the situation got even worse. Yes, they’d be called upon to make a life or death decision.
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Image: Engin_Akyurt
Image: Engin_Akyurt
Indeed, although the patient was able to raise his hand to answer various commands, his eyes remained closed. So with the situation looking bleak, the sisters agreed to turn his ventilator off. As a result, Alfonso was subsequently moved to a hospice. But sadly, just a few days later, he passed away.
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
“Within minutes he was ice cold,” Bennett-Johnson recalled to CBS. So the devastated family began making arrangements for Bennett’s funeral. For example, they bought both a casket and a burial plot and even began writing his obituary. Incredibly, however, all of these preparations proved to be entirely unnecessary, as we’ll soon find out.
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Image: Andrew Itaga
Image: Andrew Itaga
For you see, a week later the family had assembled for a barbecue when they were joined by the most unexpected of guests. You’ve guessed it, Alfonso Bennett, the man who had only recently passed away, wandered in without a care in the world. Understandably, his sisters were left in a state of bafflement, shock and ultimately joy.
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Speaking to CBS, Bennett-Johnson described the moment she discovered that the brother she was preparing to bury was in fact alive. “You’re kidding” was her first response after one of her sisters called her with the news. “I could have almost had a heart attack,” Bennett-Johnson added. So what the hell had happened?
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
Well, the elated sisters contacted the Chicago police dept. with the news that their “dead” brother had turned up unannounced. However, their happiness at such an unlikely reunion was soon tempered by a startling realization. Shockingly, they had essentially, yet completely unwittingly, sent a complete stranger to his death. Questions needed answering.
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In fact, Bennett-Johnson told CBS that the family were distraught after making such a literal life-or-death choice for someone they didn’t know. She said, “It’s sad that it happened like that. If it was our brother and we had to go through that, that would have been a different thing. We made all kinds of decisions on someone that wasn’t our family.”
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Image: WGN-TV
Image: WGN-TV
Following the mix-up, Chicago police decided to use fingerprinting on the once again, unidentified man. So he was officially identified for a second time while his body lay in the morgue. But the sisters’ attorney told CBS that he found it staggering that this method hadn’t been used in the first place.
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
You see, Cannon Lambert Sr. said, “I can’t conceive of how a budgetary issue would drive whether or not a person who was a John Doe would be fingerprinted before they’re taken off of life support. If that’s the situation, something’s got to be done.” And he later added to CNN, “I really want it to be clear that it is not acceptable for the hospital and law enforcement to perceive people as invisible.”
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
Lambert Sr. concluded by saying, “People matter.” And what’s more, Chicago police officials appeared to be listening to the family attorney’s strong words. For the force later revealed that it would be launching a thorough investigation into how such a terrible blunder occurred. “To say that we currently have questions is an understatement,” tweeted Anthony Guglielmi, the chief communications officer at Chicago Police.
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Guglielmi continued, “We have detectives looking into every aspect of this incident. From the incident response to the circumstances leading to the hospitalization and the notification of family members. Details [are] to follow as we learn more.” Now, while the police sought to learn lessons fairly quickly, there appeared a different approach back at the hospital.
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Image: Zol87
Yes, sadly Mercy Hospital appeared to be less willing to own up to any mistakes during the mix-up. Indeed, a spokesperson refused to answer any of CBS’ questions about their policies in such situations. The only comment they did offer was, “The family did identify this patient as their brother.”
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Furthermore, Suzanne Le Mignot from CBS 2 was reportedly told that fingerprints are typically only taken in two situations. One is when a person is accused of committing a crime, while the other is when a body goes to the morgue. Of course, the latter came far too late for Bennett’s sisters as well as the man who actually died. So who exactly was the man that was wrongly identified?
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
Well, following the long overdue fingerprinting, it was discovered that the dead man was a 69-year-old named Elisha Brittman. After alerting his family to the news, it was revealed that Brittman had been missing for a number of weeks beforehand. However, his family claimed the force had refused to record him as missing when they’d visited the police station. So could this have increased the likelihood of a mix-up?
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Image: WGN-TV
Image: WGN-TV
In any case, Brittman was described as a “gentle giant of sorts” by attorney Lambert. Also, he was part of a large family, being one of 13 siblings, and apparently a very keen reader. Eventually, Brittman was laid to rest on June 29, 2019, a full two months after the horrifying incident occurred.
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
What’s more, Mioshi Brittman, the victim’s great niece, told CBS that the family had been attempting to track down her uncle themselves since he went missing in late April. “We called the morgues,” she said. “We called the hospital – Mercy. We called them! We called County! We called everywhere! It shouldn’t have never happened like that.”
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Image: WGN-TV
Image: WGN-TV
Understandably, Brittman’s distraught loved ones filed a lawsuit over allegations of wrongful death, emotional distress and negligence. To add to that, the Bennett family sued both the hospital and city of Chicago for over $50,000. Patricia Van Pelt, the Illinois State Public Health Committee’s chairperson, told CBS that the errors were nothing short of scandalous.
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
As Van Pelt went on to explain, “To just take a mugshot and use that to identify a person who clearly has had injuries to his face is shocking.” Also, the senator discussed how touched she was by the Brittmans’ story. She added, “When I saw the latest report, it broke my heart listening to the young lady talk about how she searched diligently for her uncle.”
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
And Van Pelt vowed to ensure that no other Illinois family would have to go through such an ordeal. She told CBS, “I think legislation is important. It is something we should definitely look into creating right now. When you have someone that is unidentifiable, doesn’t have ID, is unconscious, fingerprinting seems to me to be the best step you can take at that time.”
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Meanwhile, the two families’ lawsuit also argued that the police force “engaged in willful and wanton conduct by intentionally choosing not to fingerprint an injured, non-responsive man who required life-saving medical assistance.” Attorney Lambert added, “It is untenable that (Chicago police) did not use fingerprints in this instance where in many other instances, they do.” However, an Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police spokesperson argued that fingerprinting isn’t guaranteed to identify a John Doe.
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
In an official statement, the spokesperson said, “Fingerprints can be used in those circumstances. The problem comes in if the unidentified person has never been fingerprinted for any reason.” However, in this particular case, fingerprinting would in all likelihood have proved that the seriously ill man in the hospital bed wasn’t Alfonso Bennett. How? Well, Bennett himself was on police records – with a mugshot – as we already know. And in the end, Brittman, too, was identified through fingerprints.
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
As you would expect, Brittman’s great niece Mioshi was furious that the whole mix-up could easily have been avoided. She told CBS, “We wouldn’t even be sitting here. We would have been by his side, there talking, providing and taking care of him. This wouldn’t even have been a mishap.”
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
The grieving relative continued to CBS, “Was he just a person just out there that nobody cared for? Did they think that?” Furthermore, she accused the Chicago police department of dropping the ball when it came to their identification methods. She added, “They can’t tell me they don’t fingerprint. It’s part of their policies and procedures.”
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Image: WGN-TV
Image: WGN-TV
However, Mioshi was keen to sing the praises of Alfonso Bennett’s siblings for publicizing their ordeal. She said, “I really appreciate the Bennett family. Had they not come to the media and let you guys know, we wouldn’t have known the way and how these things had happened.”
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Image: CBS Chicago
Image: CBS Chicago
As previously mentioned, the lawsuit filed partly alleged that Brittman died due to Chicago police and Mercy Hospital’s negligible conduct. It claimed that both defendants “convinced people, not authorized to make medical decisions on his [Brittman’s] behalf.” And it also argued that these “life affecting determinations were a proximate cause of death.”
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Image: WGN-TV
Image: WGN-TV
Worse still, the blunder also affected Bennett in a financial sense, too. Indeed, after being wrongly identified as deceased, Bennett discovered that he was no longer receiving any social security and disability payments. However, after learning about the mix-up, the relevant authorities eventually restored his financial support. Incredibly, this isn’t the only recent case of a man being taken off life support by the wrong family.
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Image: via Infobae
Image: via Infobae
Yes, in July 2018 Shirell Powell was told that her brother Frederick Williams had suffered a drug overdose and been admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. Now, the man in question was left brain damaged, and after nine days Powell consented to turn his life support off. Sounds straightforward right?
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However, in a bizarre twist, hospital staff had gotten a very much alive Williams mixed up with the real victim. How? Well, the deceased man, whose real name was Raheme Perry, had Williams’ identity card on him when brought into hospital. According to investigative website ProPublica, police told Perry’s wife that her husband had likely stolen Williams’ possessions at some point. Meanwhile, Williams himself was temporarily in jail on an unrelated assault allegation. But the mix-up meant that his sister, Powell, had inadvertently sent a stranger to his death.
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Image: Jim.henderson
Image: Jim.henderson
What’s more, Powell told the New York Post that she hasn’t been able to sleep much since the trauma. She said, “To actually stand over him and watch this man take his last breath – sometimes I can’t even talk about it because I get upset and start crying. On the one hand, I’m thankful that it wasn’t [my brother]. On the other hand, I killed somebody that was a dad or a brother.”
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Image: via NY Post
Image: via NY Post
And the surviving Frederick Williams wasn’t exactly overjoyed to hear that he’d inadvertently been involved in such a mix-up. “He was saying, ‘You were going to kill me?’’” recalled Powell regarding the phone call she made to her imprisoned brother. But she later went on to explain to him, “Once you’re brain dead, there is nothing to do.”
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Just like the Bennetts and Brittmans, Powell chose to sue the hospital in question for the emotional turmoil they put her and her family through. But St. Barnabas Hospital was ultimately cleared following a Health Department investigation which said staff had followed its own identification policy. However, the lawsuit continues, and Powell has been joined in her legal fight by the wife of Raheme Perry, LaTanya Perry.

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