SC paramedics, officer placed on leave after death of DUI suspect

EMS records show Nathanial Rhodes was taken to the police station instead of the hospital after a vehicle crash, where body cam footage shows him collapsing

By News Staff

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Two paramedics and a police officer are on leave amid an investigation into their treatment of a DUI suspect who later died.

Post and Courier reported that DUI suspect Nathaniel Rhodes suffered at least eight broken ribs and a lacerated liver after being involved in a vehicle crash. When police arrived at the scene, he was being treated in an ambulance, but an officer signed him out of medical treatment and instead took him to a booking facility for a blood test.

Rhodes collapsed at the police station and was then taken to a hospital, where he died four days later.

Officials said Charleston police officer Paul Kelly asked Rhodes to step out of the ambulance to undergo field sobriety tests after an open alcohol container was found in his vehicle. Kelly also signed a document refusing medical treatment for Rhodes with his own name.

Kelly, as well as the two paramedics who were treating Rhodes at the time, were placed on paid administrative leave.

Newly-released body cam footage from the incident shows Rhodes lying on the ground outside of a police station.

“Sixty-year-old black male, breathing is normal,” Kelly can be heard saying. “He just fell down and doesn’t want to get back up.”

“I can’t walk right now. I’m hot,” Rhodes says. “And tired.”

“There’s air conditioning right in there,” Kelly responds. “You’ve just got to walk with us to get there, sir.”

Rhodes was then prepped for the blood alcohol level test, but he collapsed before it could be conducted. He was transported to the hospital when an EMS crew arrived.

Charleston Police Department officials said other body cam footage from the incident was mislabeled and deleted after 30 days. Chief Luther Reynolds said a swift audit into the body cam program is being conducted and added that he is committed to determining what happened so he can prevent any similar incidents from occurring again.

“I have a lot of questions,” he said. “I don’t have all the answers. We want to get this right and make changes as necessary.”


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