Patient's death after scuffle with hospital security officer ruled homicide

The Greenville County Coroner has concluded the cause of death of a patient at Greenville (S.C.) Memorial Hospital on Monday morning was traumatic asphyxiation, according to The Greenville News. The patient, 48-year-old Donald Keith Smith, died after a fight with a hospital security officer.

Mr. Smith was admitted to Greenville Memorial with a gunshot wound to the arm. He reportedly became combative while in the hospital, hitting a hospital security guard. After a struggle, hospital security personnel secured Mr. Smith on a gurney. He stopped breathing and was pronounced dead at 10:23 a.m. Monday.

Greenville County Coroner Parks Evans told The Greenville News that Mr. Smith's position on the gurney prevented him from breathing. The coroner concluded Mr. Smith's manner of death was homicide — one person being killed by another.

The security officers who were on duty at the hospital at the time of the incident were from American Security. Company President Randy Harrison told WSPA news that three officers rushed to restrain Mr. Smith after he hit another officer twice. All of the security officers involved in the incident are no longer assigned to the hospital and are currently on paid leave.

The incident is being investigated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Greenville Health System spokesperson Karen Potter told Becker's on Monday that the system is cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation.

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