Response by DC police, fire department under investigation after - FOX 13 News

Response by DC police, fire department under investigation after death of DC man

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The death of a D.C. man is the subject of an internal affairs investigation within the D.C. police and fire departments.

Jose Santos Perez was found dead in his Northwest D.C. apartment just hours after he was discovered passed out on a sidewalk. But instead of being taken to a hospital, he was escorted back inside his home by at least one officer called to the scene.

Neither the D.C. Police Department nor the fire department would comment on the details of the investigation.

Instead, what we know comes from Councilmember Jim Graham, the dead man’s family, a police report and sources familiar with the investigation.

The facts so far show at least one D.C. police officer and two EMTs were called to check on Perez, 39, when he was found outside his 16th Street apartment around 1 p.m. on January 10.

What happened next is the subject of the investigation.

Friends of the family of Perez say he was a hard-working man. He was a janitor who cleaned the hallways of the McLean Gardens apartment complex in Northwest.

But on January 10th, he appeared intoxicated at work and was sent home where family and friends say he continued drinking.

At around 1 p.m. outside the 3400 block of 16th street, he collapsed and a passing citizen called 911.

"And an ambulance was on the way. The police arrived first,” said Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, “and said you are drunk, go up to you apartment. I don't know if they took him up to his apartment, but the ambulance arrived and they said we don't need you.”

A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation says the officer took the keys to Perez's apartment and sat him down on the couch.

It is still unclear how Perez died, but according to a police report, a friend went to check on him about five and a half hours after he had been escorted back inside his apartment on 16th Street. The report says a woman found him unconscious on a couch and called 911.

Graham is looking for answers.

"It's very disturbing that a police officer would turn away an ambulance because I don't think police officers are physicians,” he said. “I don't think they are in a position to evaluate a medical condition under any circumstance.”

Late Thursday afternoon, the fire department called to say Dr. David Miramontes, the medical director, would speak to us at headquarters.

But when we arrived, this is what he said, "The department is aware of the event, and because of an ongoing investigation, we are unable to comment at this time.”

So we presented a hypothetical. What is the protocol when an ambulance is called to assess an unconscious person on a sidewalk?

Dr. Miramontes responded this way: "Any time a provider is called to a scene, a medical assessment is done and appropriate care or treatment or disposition of patient is expected.”

Was that done for Jose Santos Perez? That is the question and one his family wants answered.

When FOX 5 asked for a comment from the police department, we were told to talk to the fire department.

It is an odd response since D.C. Police’s internal affairs is investigating the incident. And in an email we have seen sent from the chief to Graham calls the incident “a serious allegation.”

Perez's body has been taken back to El Salvador for burial.

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