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Fired Miami police officer sentenced to 45 days in jail for attacking nurse

Lester Bohnenblust caught on camera slamming nurse to floor at JMH

MIAMI – A former Miami police officer was sentenced Friday to 45 days in jail for attacking a nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital while on duty.

Lester Bohnenblust, 51, must also serve three years of probation after his release and perform 100 hours of community service. 

He was convicted last month of battery on a person over the age of 65 and false imprisonment.

Bohnenblust's relatives were in tears Friday as Miami-Dade County Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez handed down his sentence.

Video surveillance from May 2018 at JMH's behavioral health unit shows Bohnenblust grabbing James Nicholson, then 66, by his jacket, slamming him to the floor and placing him under arrest.

"I was never, ever expecting to be grabbed from the back and thrown from side to side to the point where I was yelling at the top of my lungs, 'Help. Help,'" Nicholson said. 

According to an arrest warrant, the clash between the two started after the officer's mentally troubled niece was discharged from the hospital.  

Her father brought her back the following day, but doctors determined she didn't meet the criteria to be readmitted and the father was told to schedule a follow-up appointment.

Retired nurse James Nicholson says he thought Miami-Dade County Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez was fair in her sentencing of the former Miami police officer who attacked him in May 2018 at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Instead, he called Bohnenblust, who showed up at the hospital in uniform and demanded that his niece be readmitted to the unit.

Nicholson said he couldn't discuss the patient's business in an area where other patients were being treated and led Bohnenblust to another area, where the officer grabbed the nurse by his jacket and slammed him to the floor.

"I just want to say that I'm responsible for the incident that took place May 23rd," Bohnenblust said in court.

Bohnenblust, who had been with the Miami Police Department for more than 20 years, has since been fired. Nicholson is now retired with an injured knee.

"What happened to me that day should not happen to anybody, especially a health care worker," Nicholson said.  

Nicholson told reporters outside the courtroom that he was pleased with the sentence and thought the judge was fair.

"I'm glad it's over and I want to thank the state attorneys that tried the case, and I'm relieved," he said. 

Nicholson's attorney said the victim plans to file a civil lawsuit against the city of Miami.