Woman with brain bleed mistakenly arrested by state trooper for drunken driving, lawsuit says

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Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. mock / mɒk / (v.) – to laugh at or make fun of someone, usually by imitating or copying him/her

    Sarah felt hurt when her classmates mocked her English accent.

  2. elude / ɪˈlud / (v.) – to avoid someone or something

    The criminal managed to escape from the police, eluding capture for weeks.

  3. intoxicated / ɪnˈtɒk sɪˌkeɪ tɪd / (adj.) – being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which impairs thinking, speech, and actions

    The driver was arrested for driving while intoxicated, putting the lives of other motorists on the road in danger.

  4. taunting / ˈtɔn tɪŋ / (adj.) – intentionally making someone feel upset or angry

    The bully continued his taunting behavior, making fun of others to feel powerful and in control.

  5. litigation / ˌlɪt ɪˈgeɪ ʃən / (n.) – the process of going to the court of law to solve a disagreement or problem

    They hired a lawyer to handle the litigation process and represent them in court.


Read the text below.

A Washington State Patrol trooper arrested a woman on suspicion of drunken driving when she was actually experiencing a life-threatening brain bleed and booked her into jail where officials mocked her instead of getting her medical attention, according to a civil rights lawsuit.

The federal lawsuit filed February 1 in Tacoma says Nicole McClure was booked into Thurston County Jail on March 21, 2022, where she lay on a cell floor for a day before receiving medical attention, The Seattle Times reported.

“Nicole suffers from severe traumatic brain injury and remains unable to care for herself or engage with life in meaningful ways,” McClure’s attorney, Anne Vankirk, said in a statement. “Had Nicole received immediate medical attention, her condition would have been significantly easier to treat and the outcome far less severe.”

According to the lawsuit, dash-camera video, and arrest reports, Trooper Jonathan Barnes tried to stop McClure after he noticed her driving too slowly and wandering out of her lane. McClure, then 38, had complained of a headache and dizziness and was headed home from work early, according to the lawsuit.

Barnes flashed his emergency lights to initiate a stop, but McClure kept slowly driving until she collided with a traffic roundabout, disabling her car, the lawsuit said.

Barnes approached with his gun pointed at McClure, yelling for her to get out of the car, dash-camera video shows. The video shows Barnes pushed her onto his vehicle hood to handcuff her while accusing her of eluding police.

Barnes arrested McClure on suspicion of intoxicated driving and felony evading. The lawsuit alleges the trooper also didn’t call medics to the scene, despite the vehicle crash, and took her to a hospital for a blood draw. But Barnes didn’t tell the hospital staff that McClure had been in a crash, the filings allege.

“Nicole recalls being laughed at and told she should ‘Have another shot,’” which she took as a taunting reference to the belief that she was drunk, not sick, Vankirk said.

Tara Tsehlana, a spokesperson for the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, defends the jail, saying: “While we can’t discuss the specifics of any pending litigation, I can confirm that the safety of inmates, staff, and the general public remains a top priority for the Thurston County Corrections Facility.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Barnes arrested McClure on suspicion of intoxicated driving and didn’t call the medic after the crash. Why do you think he did so (ex. he was sure McClure was drunk, he didn’t know the symptoms of brain bleed)? In your opinion, should providing immediate medical attention be a top priority for law enforcement officers in all situations? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, what training or skills did the officers lack based on their response to the case (ex. medical training, professionalism)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • How do you think incidents like McClure’s impact public trust in law enforcement agencies? How do you personally feel about the actions of Trooper Barnes and the other officers in this case? Discuss.
  • Do you believe that Barnes and the other officers involved should be punished for their actions? Why or why not? How do you think they can make up for what they did (ex. issue a public apology, receive a suspension)? Discuss.