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Family: Man died after officer signs a form refusing treatment

COLUMBIA, S. C. – A South Carolina man who died in August of injuries sustained in a car accident four days earlier was a delay in getting medical treatment, as an officer signed a form for him that he refused to help, the family’s lawyer said.

In the past three days, the State Law Enforcement Division launched an investigation into the actions of Charleston Police and Charleston County authorities have begun to investigate paramedics who treated Nathaniel Rhodes after the crash.

Lawyers for the Rhodes’ family showed a Charleston County jail video Monday of paramedics joke of Rhodes groaned, sounded like he was struggling to breathe and slipping in and out of consciousness. Doctors would later have a serious cut to his liver that caused internal bleeding, and eight broken ribs, lawyer Justin Bamberg said, referring to an autopsy report.

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

The officer began to do sobriety tests that Rhodes failed, the report said.

The form of the refusal of treatment from the ambulance staff at the scene was signed by an officer who seems to be a badge number and “CPD” next to the signature.

The jailhouse video shows Rhodes sits slumped in a chair. After he briefly loses consciousness, paramedics are called. If they ask Rhodes to stand and take a few steps to the stretcher, an officer comes and asks him to sign a form to agree to a breath or blood test for alcohol level. Rhodes, it seems, and the struggle to even follow the paramedics’ commands, but the incident report said that he refused to sign.

“A man is slowly dying. And they are more concerned about trumping up a case,” Bamberg said.

Rhodes’ wife and daughter wept as excerpts from the video were shown.

“We know there is nothing that we can do to our father — nothing that we can do to fill that void. But we just want to make a change,” his daughter Megan Johnson said.

Rhodes died Aug. 16 in the hospital, and an autopsy report listed the cause of death, such as injuries from the wreck.

Charleston Police released a statement Friday after NBC News , which was the first outlet to report about the case, she asked questions. The department said it asked state agents to investigate, and all other responses would come from them.

Charleston County officials, deputies asked to investigate the paramedics Monday, referring questions to law enforcement.

Bamberg also showed a letter which he wrote less than two weeks after the crash to ask for the body and dashboard camera footage of Rhodes. No images are given, but an e-mail from the police to the coroner’s office, the researchers said body camera footage was lost in a glitch or routinely deleted from the system.

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

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