SC Man Dies in Custody After Police Deny Him Care

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SC Man Dies in Custody After Police Deny Him Care

Aliyah Dearing, Editor

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The Charleston Police Department is turning over the investigation of the death of a Charleston man to SLED after new information surfaced on Friday showing alleged misconduct by officers.

Nathaniel Rhodes, 58, was taken into police custody in August 2018 after crashing his van while driving under the influence. According to a police report, the father of 3 was already on a stretcher in an ambulance when an officer decided to conduct a field sobriety test after finding an open bottle of wine in his van.

Instead of going to the hospital, Rhodes was transported to the police station and booked for DUI, but a form refusing medical treatment was signed by the officer–not Rhodes.

In surveillance video provided by his family’s attorney, Rhodes is seen in the custody of two officers and is heard saying, “I feel pretty bad.” Though he was evaluated by the police, Rhodes suffered many internal injuries including eight broken ribs and a ruptured liver.

Rhodes eventually slipped into a coma and died four days later in the hospital.

When asked why he wasn’t transported to the hospital at the scene of the crash, Justin Bamberg, Rhodes’ family attorney answered, “That is the big question, and that’s the question that both Charleston EMS and the city of Charleston police department have to answer.”

Bamberg also highlighted the missing videos in the case. Body camera videos from that day were deleted and, according to the department, there was a “software malfunction” with the dashcam videos. The one video the attorneys have are from the police station.

“We want peace and we want answers,” Rhodes’ daughter, Megan Rhodes, said during the press conference. “We want change.”

Charleston’s police chief asked the state to conduct a private investigation. In a written statement, the police department says that it, “…was 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.” 

Police turned the investigation into the death over to the state on Friday.

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