In a settlement kept quiet by the Boston Police, Al Copeland was awarded $1.2 million for negligence that began when police approached his car and continued when he was finally transferred to a hospital.
Copeland pulled over to the curb while driving home from a hospital visit. The 64-year-old man had been visiting a young man experiencing challenges with drugs and alcohol. When Boston Police approached the car, they found Copeland slumped and unable to speak. Boston police assumed he was intoxicated and arrested him. At the police station, they were unable to book him because he could not speak except to ask to go to the bathroom. Standing was a problem; he fell in the bathroom and suffered a bleeding head injury.
Copeland had suffered a major stroke, but the police assumed he was intoxicated. Even with an open bleeding wound on his head, police delayed medical treatment for him. He lay in a cell for five hours before police personnel noticed he was vomiting and called for medical help.
Police told hospital emergency room staff that he had been arrested for a DUI. The response time crucial to recovery from stroke was lost, as he endured another seven hours without treatment.
As reported by NPR News Station WBUR, Attorney George Leontire’s written complaint stated, “the City of Boston violated this individual’s civil rights, among other things. It’s Boston Police policy. If they come across an individual who clearly is having a medical issue, irrespective of the reason why they’re having a medical issue, they have the responsibility to take that person to the hospital. Toxicology tests revealed he was clean and sober, a fact his wife verified, for 29 years. It’s evident the Boston Police should have taken Mr. Copeland to the hospital.”