Charleston paramedic fired after call to treat man accused of DUI

Updated: Apr. 18, 2019 at 9:20 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A paramedic who was called to treat a man who died days later after he collapsed at a police station has now been fired.

Steven Shepard confirmed he was fired by Charleston County Emergency Medical Services last week.

Shepard was previously placed on leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation in connection to the arrest of 58-year-old Nathaniel Rhodes who was suspected of DUI and died days later after he was transported to Charleston police’s headquarters in August of 2018.

Rhodes family alleges misconduct on the part of the police department who in February announced that Officer Paul Kelly, who handled Rhodes’ arrest, has been suspended with pay in connection to the incident.

Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said his department had no idea that Kelly signed an EMS form stating that Rhodes did not wish to go to the hospital.

Reynolds said the form is a function of Charleston County Emergency Medical Services, not his department.

The family alleges the form was signed for Rhodes so that the officer could give him the field sobriety test. The officer then ordered Rhodes to be taken off the stretcher, removed from the ambulance and taken to the the police station instead of the hospital, according to lawyers for the family.

While at the police station, Rhodes complained he was in pain. According to the incident report, officers were bringing Rhodes inside the station when he went limp and was lowered to the floor of the intake area. He also complained of heat and discomfort in handcuffs, the report stated.

Once EMS told Rhodes he would be uncuffed in a chair in an air-conditioned room, he was able to walk again, the report stated. When the officer went to do paperwork, he wrote in the report that he was told Rhodes had an apparent seizure and then taken to the hospital.

An MUSC autopsy report shows his cause of death was blunt force trauma to the abdomen. It also states he had liver lacerations and contusions on his lungs. The incident report also stated he had broken ribs.

The family says it was too late by the time Rhodes was taken to the hospital where doctors tried surgery and he died four days later.

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