Nathaniel Rhodes, 58, from South Carolina, crashed his van last August resulting in serious internal injuries including eight broken ribs and a ruptured liver, according to medical records. He died in hospital four days after the collision from his injuries.
Now his family are blaming Charleston Police and Charleston County authorities for his death, saying officers delayed Rhodes’ medical treatment by booking him into the station before they allowed him to go to hospital.
They say that the arresting officer signed a medical form, which is supposed to be signed by the victim or their guardian, to say that Rhodes was refusing treatment.
The State Law Enforcement Division have launched a probe into the actions of the Charleston officer. The officer has been placed on administrative leave.
Attorneys for Rhodes’ family showed a Charleston County jail video of paramedics joking as Rhodes moaned, sounded like he was struggling to breathe and slipped in and out of consciousness.
Doctors would later find a severe cut to his liver that was causing internal bleeding along with the broken ribs, lawyer Justin Bamberg said, citing an autopsy report.
Rhodes was charged with driving under the influence after running a red light and crashing into another car in Charleston on August 12, according to an incident report.
The officer who responded to the wreck found Rhodes in an ambulance, but and after finding an opened bottle of wine between the front seats, asked him to get off the stretcher, Bamberg said.
The officer started doing sobriety tests that Rhodes failed, the report said.
The form refusing treatment from paramedics at the scene was signed by an officer who appears to include a badge number and ‘CPD’ beside the signature.
As they ask Rhodes to stand and take a few steps to the stretcher, an officer comes up and asks him to sign a form agreeing to either a breath or blood test for his alcohol level.
Rhodes seems out of it and struggles to even follow the paramedics’ commands, but the incident report said he refused to sign.
‘A man is slowly dying. And they’re more worried about trumping up a case,’ Bamberg said.
Rhodes’ wife and daughter cried as clips of the video were shown.
‘We know there is nothing we can do to get our father back – nothing we can do to fill that void. But we just want there to be a change,’ his daughter Megan Johnson said.
Rhodes died August 16 at the hospital, and an autopsy report listed the cause of death as injuries from the wreck.
The jailhouse video shows Rhodes sitting slumped in a chair. After he briefly loses consciousness, paramedics are called.
Charleston Police released a statement Friday after NBC News, which was the first outlet to report on the case, asked them questions. The department said it asked state agents to investigate and all other comments would come from them.
Charleston County officials asked deputies to investigate the paramedics Monday, also referring any questions to law enforcement.
Bamberg also showed a letter he wrote less than two weeks after the crash asking for all body and dashboard camera footage of Rhodes. No footage has been given but an email from the police to coroner’s office investigators said body camera footage was either lost in a glitch or routinely erased out of the system.