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Could officers have saved suspect's life?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Houston police are still trying to figure out whether officers were justified in killing a man yesterday following a high speed chase.

Police pulled over Roland Carnaby, 52, for speeding. During that stop, he presented them with credentials claiming to work for the CIA. The officers at the scene couldn't verify those documents before Carnaby sped off. Several minutes later, Carnaby was shot near the West Loop.

Officers say they saw him reach for something shiny, which turned out to be a cell phone. Police eventually found two pistols and a shotgun in Carnaby's vehicle.

They're not sure why he was claiming to be a federal agent.

"He called me back and said there was no record of him being an employee of the FBI or CIA," said Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt.

We've been told by the CIA Office of Public Affiars, "While we do not as a rule publicly deny or confirm employment, I will tell you in this case that Mr. Carnaby was not an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was never a CIA officer."

Several crucial minutes passed in the moments after Carnaby was shot by police. During those minutes, officers were not giving him medical attention despite the fact that officers are given first aid training. We asked HPD's chief about its policy.

Carnaby, who had been shot twice, was handcuffed and face down on the pavement after the chase ended. While the responding officers have CPR and first aid training, Carnaby didn't receive any type of medical treatment until the ambulance arrived nearly 12 minutes later.

We wanted to know why.

"I don't know as far as. I haven't seen all of the tapes," said Chief Hurtt. "I don't know how long they were out there. I don't know what type of response that was before the fire department or ambulance got to the scene."

"The ambulance took something like 12 minutes to get there," we told him.

"I don't know," he answered.

While Chief Hurtt says department policy allows and encourages officers to provide medical assistance, patrol officers responding to a scene involving an injured person who is bleeding aren't always in a position to do so.

"We have the flow of bodily fluids that could be contaminated or contagious," said Gary Blankenship with the Houston Police Officer's Union. "It causes another threat to the officer's safety that we have to be aware of."

Chief Hurtt insists some officers are provided with that equipment.

"I would think that most of the officers have some type of protection even just in searching people, with AIDS and protecting themselves from needles and that kind of thing, they would have some level of protection," said Chief Hurtt Wednesday. "But I don't know if that was true with the cars that were at the scene."

"Is that something the department provides for them?" we asked.

"We have provided some, yes."

Blankenship maintains first aid kits inside a squad car are so limited that they're no match for an invasive gunshot wound. He's pushing to change that, hoping to one day arm officers with a patch that, when applied to an open wound, would drastically reduce the flow of blood.

HPD internal affairs is conducting an investigation from the start of the chase until the crime tape was removed, which includes medical treatment or lack thereof on the part of the officers.

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