Guards involved in deadly struggle with hospital patient reassig - FOX Carolina 21

Guards involved in deadly struggle with hospital patient reassigned amid investigation

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Donald Keith Smith (Source: Family) Donald Keith Smith (Source: Family)
Greenville Memorial Hospital. (File/FOX Carolina) Greenville Memorial Hospital. (File/FOX Carolina)

The Greenville County Coroner's Office and SLED are investigating a man's death at Greenville Memorial Hospital on Monday.

Coroner Parks Evans said a patient was admitted to the hospital for treatment at which time he became combative. The man reportedly struck hospital security personnel and a struggle ensued.

SLED said the patient was brought to the emergency room with a gunshot wound to the arm prior to his death.

Evans said the man, 48-year-old Donald Keith Smith of Crawford Hill Road, became unresponsive and stopped breathing. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead just before 10:30 a.m.

Evans said Smith's cause of death was traumatic asphyxiation and he ruled the manner of death a homicide.

A legal representative released the following statement on behalf of Smith's family:

“We are heartbroken as a family to have to say goodbye to Donald in such an abrupt and tragic fashion.   We are still trying to make sense of the events that transpired Monday at Greenville Memorial Hospital.   This was a preventable death.  This should not happen in Greenville.  This should not happen in South Carolina.  This should not happen in America.  There will be a time and a place to ask tough questions about how this happened, but today we ask for your thoughts and prayers as we say goodbye to Donald.  We also ask that you respect our privacy while we grieve as a family and we will not be commenting any further at this time.”

The group "Fighting Injustice Together" is also involved in supporting the family.

During a Thursday press conference concerning the incident, Bruce Wilson of Fighting Injustice Together spoke on behalf of Smith's family.

According to Wilson, Smith's family maintains that Smith did not come to the hospital to be treated for a gunshot wound to the arm, though they did say he had been injured prior to the hospital scuffle.Wilson also said Smith's family is requesting privacy at this time, and has reached out to the Upstate Black Lives Matter chapter and other civil rights groups to request they do not hold protests or rallies on behalf of Smith.

An official with the Greenville Health System released the following statement on the incident saying the security officers involved are no longer on assignment at GHS while the investigation is on going. Here is the full statement:

Greenville Health System continues to cooperate with law enforcement officials in connection with an incident that occurred on Monday, March 6, in which an individual died after being restrained following his assault on an American Security officer. The attack occurred in a patient hallway of the emergency department at Greenville Memorial Hospital where other patients and staff were present. GHS cannot discuss any more details of the event due to privacy laws.

As part of standard protocol, the three American Security officers involved in the restraint and the one assaulted are no longer on assignment at GHS facilities while the investigation is ongoing. The State Law Enforcement Division is conducting the investigation.

As always, patient care and safety are top priorities for GHS.

- Sandy Dees

The security guards involved in the incident are employed by American Services, Inc.

Randy Harrison, President of American Services, said the incident began with a verbal altercation and the guards involved had made no physical contact with the suspect before Smith attacked one officer, striking him twice in the face.

Harrison said it required multiple guards to detain Smith for their safety and the safety of others in the hospital.

The guards involved have been reassigned pending the outcome of SLED's investigation.

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