[image-1] The Charleston Police Department has released video footage connected to the death of Nathaniel Rhodes, a 58-year-old man who died four days after he was signed out of emergency care by a Charleston police officer last year.

On Tuesday afternoon, police released three videos: body camera footage of Rhodes being taken into the Charleston police headquarters, surveillance video from inside the police department, and body camera footage of Rhodes laying on a hospital bed at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Surveillance video of Rhodes sitting at police headquarters was previously shown to media in a press conference held by Rhodes’ family’s legal team Monday morning.
[content-1] On Fri. Feb. 22, Charleston police announced that they were referring the case to the State Law Enforcement Division for further investigation after being provided with “a document that raised questions about whether CPD officers followed proper procedure when the driver was not transported to the hospital from the scene of the accident.”

On Monday, CPD released a 152-page document related to the case.

Rhodes ran a red light and was hit by a pickup truck in the intersection of Coming Street and Highway 17 on Aug. 12, according to an incident report. Officer Paul Kelly spotted a bottle of wine in a black plastic bag that was one-third full. When asked about the wine, Rhodes said he had been drinking from it “about three hours ago,” according to the report. The officer then asked Rhodes to take a field sobriety test after EMS advised that “there was no reason he had to remain in the stretcher,” according to the report.

Officer Kelly then signed a form on Rhodes’ behalf refusing transport to a hospital.

“At the point in which Mr. Rhodes was in the custody of EMS and requested transport, it was completely inappropriate of them to allow the officer to sign him out and to allow them to refuse the medical treatment,” said attorney Christy Fargnoli. “That was a non-delegable duty that EMS had, and they breached it.”

Officer Kelly has been placed in administrative leave with pay, according to CPD spokesman Charles Francis. The paramedics dispatched to the Lockwood Boulevard police station have been placed on administrative leave with pay as the case is reviewed, according to a Charleston County spokesman.

The county Sheriff’s Office routed all questions about EMS policy to SLED, which has not responded to a request for comment from City Paper.

Rhodes failed the field sobriety test and was taken to CPD headquarters for a Datamaster test.

[image-2]
Rhodes is shown laying on the ground outside of a law enforcement building in a body camera video released Tuesday. Officers help him up and bring him into the building, with Rhodes losing his shoes in the process.

In another video released Tuesday, Rhodes appeared to have difficulty breathing while sitting inside police headquarters. He is seen struggling to answer questions and points to the right side of his abdomen to indicate pain.

Rhodes suffered eight broken ribs and a ruptured liver from the accident, according to attorney and S.C. Rep. Justin Bamberg. He died on Aug. 16 at MUSC.

In an email to the Charleston County Coroner’s Office dated Sept. 26, 2018, police said that two videos from the Rhodes incident were lost due to software issues and that two separate videos were labeled as “routine collision” videos and subsequently deleted.

“The body camera footage that was deleted hasn’t been recovered,” Francis said. “The footage was improperly labeled and deleted after a 30-day holding period. The body camera footage released to the media was properly labeled.”

“The loss of a life is always tragic and must be taken very seriously,” said Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds in a statement released Monday. “The Charleston Police Department is committed to protecting and serving the people of our city, while always being transparent and accountable for our actions in the process.”


Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.