Johnnie Carter, accused of stealing an ambulance and crashing it into a 13th Street automotive business, should have been restrained and under supervision while a patient at The Medical Center, his family claimed Wednesday.
Columbus police say Carter, 36, of Seale, Ala. dragged a paramedic about 20 feet as he fled the hospital in the stolen ambulance late Monday. About five minutes later, he crashed the ambulance into PTAP, 306 13th St.
Arrested at the scene, Carter told police he took the ambulance because “the voices inside his head told him to steal the ambulance and wreck it,” Columbus police reports state.
Carter appeared in Columbus Recorder’s Court Wednesday morning and pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault, theft by taking motor vehicle, second-degree criminal damage to property and traffic violations.
“I don’t see how he got out of the hospital,” said Bonnie Spencer, Carter’s mother. “Someone was supposed to be watching him.”
Spencer, who spoke about Carter’s schizophrenia after her son’s court hearing, said she called police on Monday about Carter and he was taken to the hospital that day.
“He didn’t know who I was or nothing else,” Spencer said. “He didn’t know me.”
Stephanie Spencer, Carter’s sister, testified in court that her brother was restrained when his family left the hospital at 8 p.m. Monday.
“We were told he was under supervision,” she added.
Officer Kenneth Culverson, testifying at Carter’s Wednesday hearing, said Carter was watched by Medical Center staff during the day but that the person watching him left when her shift ended at 8 p.m. Monday.
“At the time of this incident, he was not being watched,” Culverson said.