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SLED to investigate DUI suspect's death in Charleston police custody

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Charleston police (copy) (copy)

A 59-year-old man died Wednesday after a car struck him while he was riding his bicycle on Cosgrove Bridge.

The Charleston Police Department is turning over an investigation into a DUI arrest from August 2018 to the State Law Enforcement Division after new information surfaced on Friday showing possible misconduct by officers. 

The two-vehicle crash occurred at 5:08 p.m. on Aug. 12, 2018 at the intersection of the Septima P. Clark Parkway and Coming Street in downtown Charleston.

As officers arrived, the driver of one of the vehicles was in an ambulance being cared for by emergency medical services, police stated. Shortly after, an officer found an open container of alcohol in that driver's vehicle and asked the driver to take a series of field sobriety tests. 

The driver was taken to Charleston police headquarters to be tested on a Breathalyzer-type device, police stated. 

"On entering the station, the driver fell to the ground and reported that he was experiencing physical distress, at which point, officers called (emergency medical services) and he was transported to a local hospital, where he died four days later," police stated.

On Friday, police department staff were gathering information in response to a news organization's request involving the case when the department was provided with a document that raised questions on whether officers followed proper procedure in diverting the driver from being transported to the hospital from the scene of the crash, police stated. 

Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds immediately referred the investigation to SLED, police stated. 

"The loss of a life is always tragic and must be taken very seriously," Reynolds said, in a statement. "I have requested that SLED conduct a thorough investigation into this matter. 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." 

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Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.

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