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Crime

Nurse Allegedly Caught Beating Special Needs Boy on Camera as Mom Watches in Horror: ‘It Was Heart-Wrenching’

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Nick Ut/AP

Dyana Ko was having a routine day, spending the morning watching her son’s basketball game, about 20 minutes from her home.

She had a nanny cam that sent a live feed to her phone, so she opened the app to check on her 2-year-old son with special needs, who she had left home with a nurse.

As Ko glanced at the screen, her curiosity turned to horror. That’s when, she alleges, she saw the nurse beating her son in the living room. The grainy video allegedly appeared to show the nurse striking the child, at one point rolling up a magazine to use as a club.

“I told the other moms. I said I think I see my special needs baby being abused,” Ko told CBS Los Angeles. “I think I’m going to pass out.”

Ko’s husband called 911 while Ko continued to watch the alleged abuse. Police arrived at the scene and arrested the nurse, Thelma Manalastas, and charged her with assault.

According to Ko, her son, Landon, has multiple health issues. He suffers from Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome. He’s blind in one eye and eats through a feeding tube. According to his family, he’s nonverbal and needs 24-hour care.

The nurse had been employed by Maxim Healthcare Services, who released a statement: “Upon learning of this incident, we conducted an investigation that resulted in the termination of Ms. Manalastas’ employment with Maxim. We have notified the California Board of Nursing and will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities as they investigate this matter.”

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The family has filed a lawsuit against Maxim, seeking unspecified damages.

Manalastas did not return PEOPLE’s call for comment. She has not yet entered a plea to the criminal charge against her, and it was not immediately clear if she has an attorney.

While Landon was not seriously injured in the alleged beating, his family says that they’re struggling to understand why someone would hit their child — and are dealing with lingering guilt over the incident.

“Just to see him so helpless, it was heart-wrenching,” Landon’s father, Chris, told CBS Los Angeles. “We had to force ourselves to watch it live.”

Added Dyana Ko: “I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself for that.”