Newly-obtained video reveals what happened to Charles Byers in mental hospital before he was killed by police

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Posted at 9:03 PM, Feb 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-11 22:09:12-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Video obtained exclusively by CBS 6 reveals the interactions between a mentally ill hospital patient and Richmond Police, medical staff, and security just 36 hours before the man would be killed during an encounter with Chesterfield Police.

For the first time publicly, the body camera footage shows exactly what led a Richmond police officer to arrest and remove 34-year-old Charles Byers from the hospital while Byers was under a court order to receive involuntary psychiatric treatment.

Richmond Police initially declined to release the body camera footage when requested by CBS 6 through the Freedom of Information Act, but the video has now been submitted as evidence in a civil case.

Byers lived with schizoaffective disorder, which his family said caused delusions, paranoia, and anxiety.

Chippenham Hospital in Richmond
Chippenham Hospital in Richmond

On July 5, 2023, Byers was suffering an episode, so his mother took him to the emergency department at HCA's Chippenham Hospital in Richmond.

While he was there, Byers was found roaming the halls of the hospital and "heard voices and saw things that weren't there," according to court filings. So, a Richmond Police officer working at the hospital placed Byers under an emergency custody order.

A mental health professional with Richmond Behavioral Health Authority conducted an evaluation around 11:30 p.m. that evening and recommended Byers be placed under a temporary detention order (TDO) because he was confused and could not give "any information of substance" to the evaluator.

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Just before 3:00 a.m. on July 6, a Richmond magistrate signed off on a TDO for Byers, stating that Byers was a danger to himself or others and was unable to care for himself. Under a TDO, a patient is typically required to receive treatment at a psychiatric facility for up to 72 hours or until a commitment hearing is held for the individual. Byers never had a commitment hearing.

Around 3:00 p.m. on July 6, a bed became available for Byers at Tucker Pavilion, located at Chippenham Hospital, and he was admitted.

However, Byers had only been admitted for just three hours when hospital staff decided to move him to a room with seclusions on another floor, because Byers "became aggressive toward staff," according to court records filed by HCA Healthcare.

When Byers did not want to get on an elevator, hospital staff and security called a Richmond Police officer to assist.

That's when the body camera footage begins.

Just 30 seconds into the video, Byers was heard saying he "can't cooperate" and would "just wait for the real cops to get here" and said the officer's hat was "fake."

“Why don’t you want to take the elevator?” the RPD officer asked.

“Because I don’t trust you specifically and some other people specifically," Byers responded.

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Byers was unintelligible on many occasions throughout the exchange. Security officers and medical staff also surrounded him for the duration of the video.

“Sir, you gonna take the elevator?” a security officer asked about two minutes into the video.

“No, unfortunately," Byers said.

“Well, you don’t have no other option," the security officer said.
Around four minutes in, Byers said that part of the reason he didn't want to get on the elevator was because he gets motion sickness.

In response, the RPD officer asked someone to get him medicine.

Around five minutes in, a security officer said Byers was a "flight risk" and suggested handcuffing him if he won't cooperate.

“If you’re comfortable with it, maybe you can “clink clink” him and one officer on each side, you know? Just to diffuse the situation right now," the security officer said to the RPD officer.

“I think that’s going to aggravate the situation," the RPD officer responded.

Twelve minutes into the video, a hospital employee arrived to give Byers a shot in his arm.

The group agreed to give him a few minutes for the effects to kick in and then get him on the elevator. But that didn't happen.

Around 19 minutes into the video, the elevator opened, but Byers refused to get in.

“Come on Charles. Here, I gotcha. Come on. I’ll go down with you," the RPD officer said.

Byers still did not cooperate, and then a nurse suggested that the RPD officer handcuff him.

“Maybe we can put them on, and just take him down," the nurse said.

Twenty-three minutes in, staff and officers appeared to grow increasingly impatient, and the security officer again suggested that the RPD officer handcuff him.

“We gave you multiple opportunities, correct?” the security officer asked Byers.

“You’re right about that," Byers responded.

“To get on the elevator. We let you do things the way you wanted to do things and get medicated and calm down so that you can get on the elevator correct? Nothing is funny. It’s going to end up bad for you," the security officer said.

“This is your last chance before I put you in handcuffs. Stand up and let’s go," the RPD officer told Byers around 24 minutes into the video.

“I will," Byers said.

“Now," the RPD officer said.

“I’m currently standing, or maybe I’m hallucinating that I’m standing," Byers said.

A nurse then appeared to reach for Byers, and Byers grabbed the nurse's wrist.

The RPD officer and the nurse then grabbed Byers and tried to stand him up.

“Do you want to get tased?” the RPD officer said.

“No," Byers said.

“Well it’s going to happen," the RPD officer said.

“Let him cuff you. We’re done talking," the nurse said.

They struggled with Byers and then brought him to the ground. Byers appeared to resist being handcuffed.

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“Stop resisting or I’m going to [expletive] tase you. I’ve had enough. Put your hands behind your back. Do it now," the RPD officer shouted around 26 minutes into the video.

After that exchange, the officers and nurse get off of Byers.

The RPD officer continued to threaten to tase Byers and said if he didn't comply. he would have to "take the ride."

Byers sat on the floor throughout the rest of the video, not saying much.

“Right now, you’re probably going to jail instead of staying here for treatment," the RPD officer told Byers about 30 minutes into the video.

The RPD officer then said he saw Byers "kick at somebody" to which Byers responded by apologizing.

“At this point, I would just request that you guys take him," the nurse told the RPD officer about 33 minutes in.

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“You’re the one that got kicked?” the RPD officer asked the nurse.

In response, the nurse nodded his head.

The RPD officer said Byers was under arrest for kicking a medical worker, though the body camera footage viewed by CBS 6 did not clearly show a kick.

More Richmond Police officers arrived to take Byers to jail, and Byers did not resist.

The nurse then said he would grab discharge paperwork for the officer.

“I tried to avoid this man – definitely tried," the RPD officer told Byers around 40 minutes in as he was being arrested.

Byers would then go before a Richmond magistrate on an assault charge, and the magistrate would release Byers.

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A day and a half later, Byers would end up half a mile from his house in Chesterfield County, attempting to break into homes, according to Chesterfield Police.

Chesterfield Police officers would respond and ultimately shoot and kill Byers after they said he advanced at officers and did not comply with orders to drop a hatchet.

Byers' TDO ordering him to be in a psychiatric facility for mental health treatment would still be in effect at the time of his death.

Byers' family has filed a $35 million lawsuitagainst HCA Healthcare and Richmond Police claiming violation of patient rights, wrongful death, and negligence.

Defendants have since responded, requesting that the suit be dismissed.

Lawyers for HCA claimed defendants' actions were in accordance with the law and did not cause Byers' death.

Defendants said they had no control over the magistrate's decision to not order that Byers be taken back to the hospital or the events that transpired between Byers and Chesterfield County Police.

Seven months following the shooting, on February 6, Chesterfield County Police completed its criminal investigation into the shooting and handed over its findings to the Chesterfield Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.

When asked for an update on the case, a spokesperson for newly elected Commonwealth's Attorney Erin Barr said, "We have no update at this time."

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