Family: A man died after the officer signed a refusal form



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A man from South Carolina, who died in August from injuries sustained in a car accident four days earlier, was slow to seek treatment because an officer had signed a form telling him that he was refusing help, announced the family's lawyer.

In the past three days, the State Law Enforcement Division has opened an investigation into the actions of the Charleston Police and Charleston County authorities have opened an investigation into the paramedics paramedics who treated Nathaniel Rhodes after the accident.

Rhodes family lawyers showed Monday a video of Charleston County Jail showing paramedics joking when Rhodes moaned. It seemed like he was having trouble breathing and that he was unconscious. Doctors will eventually discover a severe cut to the liver causing internal bleeding and eight broken ribs, said lawyer Justin Bamberg, citing an autopsy report.

Rhodes, 58, was charged with driving under the influence after having burned a red light and crashed into another car in Charleston on August 12, according to an incident report. The officer who responded to the wreckage found Rhodes in an ambulance and, after finding an open bottle of wine between the front seats, asked him to get off the stretcher, said Bamberg.

The officer began doing sobriety tests against Rhodes' failure, according to the report.

The on-site Paramedic Treatment Refusal Form has been signed by an officer who appears to include a badge number and a "CPD" beside the signature.

The video of the prison shows Rhodes sitting, slumped in an armchair. After briefly passing out, paramedics are called. While they ask Rhodes to stand up and take a few steps towards the stretcher, an officer approaches and asks him to sign a form accepting either a breath test or a blood test for his alcohol level. Rhodes seems to come out and even struggles to follow the orders of paramedics, but the incident report says that he refused to sign.

"A man is dying slowly, and they are more worried about classifying a case," Bamberg said.

Rhodes' wife and daughter cried when footage of the video was shown.

"We know we can not do anything to get our father back, we can not do anything to fill that void, but we just want it to change," said his daughter Megan Johnson.

Rhodes died Aug. 16 at the hospital, and an autopsy report indicated the cause of death as injuries caused by the wreckage.

The Charleston police issued a statement Friday after NBC News, the first news conference reported the case, asked them questions. The department said it had asked state agents to investigate and that any other comments would come from them.

Charleston County officials asked MPs to investigate paramedics on Monday, asking the police any questions.

Bamberg also showed a letter that he had written less than two weeks after the accident, requesting all the body and camera images from the Rhodes Dashboard. No footage was provided, but an email sent by the police to the coroner's office investigators revealed that the body's camera images had been lost or erased from the system.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP. Read his work at https://apnews.com/search/jeffrey%20collins

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