A Canadian man is suing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for more than $12 million after he says the agency mistook the symptoms of a massive stroke for drunkenness.
According to the CBC, Alan Ruel, 73, of Crossfield, Alberta, was arrested on July 16, 2015. According to his lawsuit, he likely suffered a "disorienting event" — likely an initial stroke — that left him confused and slurring his speech.
In his "disoriented state," Ruel drove to visit his friend, the owner of a nearby bar. His clothes were disheveled, his pants were undone, and he parked on the sidewalk. An employee assumed that Ruel had arrived at the bar drunk, and immediately kicked Ruel out of the bar and called the police.
According to CBC, police reports indicate that the arresting officer reported smelling alcohol on Ruel's breath. Ruel says he told officers that he wasn't drunk and offered to take a breathalyzer test, but was denied.
Ruel was then taken to police headquarters and arrested. While he was offered a phone call, he mistakenly called his home phone even though his wife was out of the country. With no one coming to pick him up, Ruel was taken to a cell.
After locking him in a cell, CBC reports that RCMP officials did not check on for more than 12 hours — despite a department policy that says that cells should be checked every 15 minutes. During that first check-in, an RCMP official poked his head into Ruel's cell for eight seconds. According to surveillance video, Ruel was not offered anything to drink during his time in the cell.
All the while, the security video shows Ruel dizzy and disoriented, even hours after his arrest. It wasn't until 17 hours after his arrest that officials suspected something might be wrong, and he was transported to a hospital on a stretcher.
In the four years since his arrest, Ruel says he has decreased motor functions on the left side of his face and body, and his mind "is still unclear."
In a statement to the CBC, the RCMP said it was justified in arresting Ruel for public intoxication and said there were no signs of his medical distress. They also added that Ruel never complained of medical distress while in custody.