Family questions emergency response to DC man - FOX 13 News

Family questions emergency response to DC man

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Jose Santos Ruiz Perez Jose Santos Ruiz Perez

New questions are being raised about the January death of Jose Santos Ruiz Perez. The D.C. man was found deceased in his Northwest D.C. apartment just hours after being escorted there by D.C. police and EMTs.

The deputy mayor for public safety says Perez asked the first responders to take him there. It is a claim the man’s common law wife now disputes.

Gloria Ordonez Hernandez is speaking out for the first time on the death of her common law husband and is disputing a claim by first responders the 39-year-old didn't want medical care and just wanted to go home.

Hernandez says her husband couldn't speak the day he was found on the ground outside his apartment and therefore couldn't communicate with the police and EMTs.

Hernandez wasn't with her common law husband when he collapsed outside their 16th Street apartment in the afternoon of January 10, but a trusted neighbor was.

Hernandez says she was told Jose was in such a state, he couldn't even speak.

FOX 5 interviewed her with the assistance of family friend, Victor Vacanti.

"She says they should have taken him to the hospital because he couldn't speak in that moment,” Hernandez told us through an interpreter. “He was unable to talk. He kept trying to speak, but he couldn't, and there were witnesses to that effect.”

Hernandez says her neighbor was with Jose, the police and the EMTs when he was wheeled into the apartment.

"He was trying to talk, (but) he didn't have the ability to say yes or no,” she said. “He should have been taken to the hospital regardless just because he was a little bit tipsy, a little bit drunk, was no reason to take him back to the apartment.”

No one knows how Jose Santos Ruiz Perez died. It's still under investigation by the medical examiner and prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. There is no dispute the man was intoxicated.

At a city council hearing last week, Paul Quander, the deputy mayor for public safety, said Perez declined medical attention.

"The EMT personnel assessed Mr. Perez,” said Quander, “and found no obvious signs of trauma, trouble breathing or complaints of pain. Mr. Perez was repeatedly asked if he wanted to be transported to the hospital. He declined and said he wanted to be taken to his residence.”

Quander told the council the first responders put him on a stair chair and took the 39-year-old to his apartment where they asked him again if he wanted to go to the hospital. He declined and asked that his keys be given to a neighbor.

Despite that, the deputy mayor says not all protocols were followed.

"FEMS has clearly defined protocols when patients decline medical treatment,” he said. “A review has determined the two FEMS employees did not follow protocols before deciding not to transport Mr. Perez for treatment.”

In hopes of learning more about what happened, the family has hired attorney Chris Zampogna to represent them.

"We have really scratched the surface with questions or answers to questions at this point,” he said. “We are glad that the council had a hearing, but that really just opened up more questions than answers.”

Perez was buried in his native El Salvador where he is survived by his 16-year-old son.

The deputy mayor says the EMTs failed to contact a supervisor before leaving the apartment that day and they did not document the call.

D.C. police say the officer who assisted Perez has not been taken off the street and is on full duty status.

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