Criminal charges were filed on Wednesday against Dr. Geoffrey Kim, a prominent Colorado plastic surgeon, after he was accused of reckless manslaughter stemming from a botched surgery in 2019.

According to court records, 18-year-old Emmalyn Nguyen died in his care after she went into cardiac arrest during breast augmentation surgery. Authorities claimed that Nguyen suffered severe brain damage before she died, and that Geoffrey Kim did not contact emergency services to transport her to a hospital for nearly five hours.

Anesthetist Rex Meeker, who was present during the surgery, also faces a charge of reckless manslaughter. A warrant is currently out for his arrest. Dr. Geoffrey Kim was arrested by authorities and later released on $5,000 bond, authorities revealed.

Both medical professionals had an obligation to alert emergency personnel and call the hospital for help should anything go wrong during surgery, but neither party reportedly acted for nearly five hours after the young woman went into cardiac arrest.

“We opened this case in August 2019. The investigation has taken more than two years to complete and involved dozens of interviews and search warrants,” stated Captain Travis Stewart of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office. “Our hope is that this will be the beginning of bringing justice and a sense of closure to Emmalyn’s family.”

According to CBS News, Dr. Geoffrey Kim paid the family of Emmalyn Nguyen roughly $2 million last year as part of settlement case.

“It’s a travesty that an 18-year-old girl’s life is worth such a small amount of money,” attorney David Woodruff, who represented the Nguyen family, told local reporters.

Emmalyn Nguyen, 18-year-old who died after going into cardiac arrest during surgery performed by prominent Colorado plastic surgeon Geoffrey Kim
Emmalyn Nguyen, 18-year-old who died after going into cardiac arrest during surgery performed by prominent Colorado plastic surgeon Geoffrey Kim. Photo Credit: Family of Emmalyn Nguyen

At the hospital, Emmalyn Nguyen was left brain dead and couldn’t speak, according to the family. She died 14 months after the botched surgery at Dr. Kim’s Greenwood Village office.

After the criminal charges were filed this week, Nguyen’s family told CBS News that they were glad to be “finally getting justice for Emmalyn.”

“Even though it will never bring our daughter back, at least this will help others from getting hurt and prevent ruining other families’ lives,” Emmalyn Nguyen’s family said in a statement. “We still haven’t been able to get closure from Emmalyn’s death. Hopefully bringing criminal charges will bring out the truth about what happened and will bring justice for Emmalyn.”

Dr. Geoffrey Kim, though on three years of probation, was able to continue to practice medicine as the investigation continued. At the time, he admitted that the situation led to “unprofessional conduct.” Since the charges were announced, however, the New York Post reported that the Colorado Medical Board has since suspended Dr. Kim’s medical license.

The family allegedly settled out of court so as to not relive the tragedy in the public eye, but they told reporters that they were grateful that Dr. Kim faces criminal charges for the death of their daughter. Although they reached a settlement, most of the money has since been gobbled up medical bills from Emmalyn Nguyen’s 14-month stay in the hospital before her death.

“It’s just crazy how these medical staff could get away with this and none of us still not knowing the truth about what really happened when Emmalyn was in the OR,” the family said. “How could they let that happen to her? Our lives will never be the same again and our hearts will never be at peace. It’s so difficult losing a child under the hands of someone you thought knew what they’re doing.”