The Orange County Register reports that the Southern California city of Garden Grove will have to pay a $500,000 settlement to a woman wrongfully arrested for a DUI while she was having a stroke.
The settlement was a long time in coming. The initial arrest happened way back in 2011 when 43-year-old Robin Winger was arrested by Garden Grove PD. She was pulled over for driving erratically. Officers claim it seemed as if she may be under the influence.
Winger started speaking erratically while taking her 15-year-old daughter to Garden Grove High School. Her statements didn’t make sense, said her attorney, Jerry Steering.
Winger was unaware that the passenger side mirror of her Chevrolet truck had clipped the mirror of a parked city vehicle, catching the attention of a nearby police officer,
Officer Michael Elhami activated his lights to pull over Winger, but she didn’t notice them, Steering said. Elhami then turned on his siren, which caused a confused Winger to pull over in a jerking manner.
When the officer approached the vehicle and asked why Winger didn’t stop, her daughter said that something was wrong with her mother. Winger said she had been to the hospital already but she couldn’t remember what happened.
She had had a stroke.
While still confused, Winger was given a field sobriety test and was examined by a Police Department drug recognition expert, who determined she was under the influence. She was then booked for DUI at the city jail, which was operated by private vendor The Geo Group. Winger was placed in a sobering cell, Steering said.
After several hours, Winger was released from jail and driven by her daughter’s father to UC Irvine Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with a stroke and kept for four days, Steering said. Meanwhile, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed misdemeanor DUI charges after learning that she had marijuana in her system, but no alcohol.
In 2013, Winger sued the police department and the vendor who operated the jail and won $300,000. Now the city has settled with Winger for $500,000. Winger’s attorney was quoted as saying the case highlights the need for better medical training for officers so they can make proper determinations in arrests.
Police officers usually suspect intoxication when a person suffers a stroke. They need better training so less people suffer the nightmare of being arrested for intoxication when they need immediate medical help the most.