I-TEAM UPDATE: Video of the Paul Tarashuk case now being used to train first responders

Paul Tarashuk, pictured here in custody before he was let go, later died on Interstate 95 (Source: WRDW)
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Friday, Nov. 1, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock

ORANGEBURG, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- First responders across the United States are now using the story of a mentally ill man hit and killed on an Orangeburg County interstate in training their classes.

Paul Tarashuk suffered from mental health condition called schizoaffective disorder. Four agencies responded the night before he died. Either the agencies failed to recognize his mental illness or they choose not to do anything about it.

Body cam footage shows Tarashuk naked on top of a tractor trailer. First he talks, but makes no sense, then he the video shows him shutting down and he becomes non-verbal. An Orangeburg County deputy calls EMS. They do nothing to help Tarashuk either. Instead they curse and berate him and shove an ammonia capsule up his nose.

Orangburg County EMS did not take Tarashuk to the hospital.

Instead the deputy drove him to a closed gas station in the middle of the night. He leaves him there without shoes, ID, or a cell phone.

Tarashuk was hit and killed hours later.

The body cam video is horrifying to watch, but educators believe watching it will help teach other first responders how to recognize the signs of mental illness.

Luciana Randall is using the video as a training tool in Pennsylvania, including with the Pittsburgh Police Department.

"I think I mainly want them to feel,” Randall said. “Sometimes I'll start with the video and let them feel how this would feel to anybody without pointing things out. I want them to see the fact that he didn't react and he was non-verbal. This could be anybody. It could be a deaf person, a person with a mental illness, it could be an autistic person, it could be anybody's son or nephew or brother. It's just appalling what happened.”

EMS educators are also using the video as training tool at University of South Carolina School of Medicine.

We talked with Tarashuk’s mother this week. She hopes more agencies will use her son's story and the video to help teach first responders how to recognize the signs of mental illness.

A federal lawsuit is pending against the first responders. SLED also opened an investigation after we broke the story. The investigation is still open.

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