Calif. Woman Claims Police Mistook Her Stroke for Drunkenness, Sues - NBC Bay Area
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Calif. Woman Claims Police Mistook Her Stroke for Drunkenness, Sues

Gwen Daigle has epilepsy, according to her attorney

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    Woman Sues City of Oceanside for Arrest While Suffering Stroke

    A Carlsbad woman said she was arrested while suffering from a stroke but claims officers thought she was drunk. NBC 7's Allison Ash has more. (Published Wednesday, June 26, 2019)

    A Carlsbad woman is suing both the City of Oceanside and San Diego County after she claimed police mistook her stroke for drunkenness and arrested her.

    Gwen Daigle filed her lawsuit in federal court, asking for damages in excess of $20 million for allegedly being falsely arrested and denied medical care when she was arrested in October 2018.

    Daigle told NBC7 she is in constant pain and that her right hand still isn’t fully mobile.

    "It ruined my life," she said.

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    Daigle was waiting for a friend outside an Oceanside fitness club when she started feeling sick.

    "My head was spinning," she said.

    Daigle remembers dropping her phone several times before getting out of her car and falling to the ground.

    A good Samaritan called 911, but when officers with the Oceanside Police Department arrived, Daigle said they kept telling her she was under arrest for being drunk in public.

    "I kept telling her I don’t drink," said Daigle, who claims she doesn’t like alcohol. Daigle said she told officers several times that she needed medical assistance.

    Several hours later, Daigle said she woke up face-down in a jail cell.

    "I just felt sick. I couldn’t, you know, stand, and I saw that there was a phone and I tried to pull myself up, I tried to hold myself up," she said.

    Daigle posted bail and was released from the Vista Detention Center, but her car was still parked in Oceanside, so she walked more than a mile to a friend’s house.

    Daigle told NBC 7 she collapsed the minute she waked through her friend’s door.

    She was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital and spent three days unconscious in intensive care.

    The doctor told her she suffered a stroke.

    Daigle’s attorney, Jerry Steering, said the Oceanside Police Department shares the responsibility for Daigle’s lack of medical care with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Steering claimed the intake personnel didn’t do a thorough enough medical check before booking her.

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    Steering said he wants justice for his client and for officers and jail staff to receive training to be able to recognize the signs of a stroke.

    Daigle has epilepsy, according to her attorney.

    She said she feels pain every day, "from the time I wake up in the morning to the time I go to bed."

    Because her right side was partially paralyzed she still can’t do simple things, like button a blouse or sign her name, without pain. 

    NBC 7 contacted the City of Oceanside and San Diego County for comment on the lawsuit, and both declined comment, saying they haven’t been served with the legal papers yet.