Officers Charged Her With Drunken Driving. But Her Brain Was Bleeding.

Driving home from work on the day her life changed forever, Nicole McClure could feel her feet tingling and her sense of direction faltering. Then she noticed colorful lights illuminating the early morning landscape.

“Oh, pretty lights,” she remembers thinking, not realizing that a highway patrol car was coming up behind her. On what was supposed to be a simple drive home from her overnight job at Walmart near Olympia, Wash., Ms. McClure felt increasingly disoriented, and wound up crashing into two roundabouts before pulling over.

The state trooper who had followed her ran to her door with his gun drawn, shouting at her to get out of the car, according to his dash cam video. He demanded to know if she had been drinking or using drugs. She denied it. “I’m not feeling real well,” she said. The trooper was not convinced. She was taken to jail, accused of driving under the influence.


She Was Arrested for DUI. Her Brain Was Bleeding.

A state trooper with his gun drawn pulled Nicole McClure, who had a brain bleed, out of her car and arrested her after she crashed into two roundabouts.

“Get out of the car! Get out of the car now! Get out of the car. Hands where I can see them. Turn around. You’re under arrest.” “For what?” “Turn around. You’re under arrest.” “What am I under arrest for?” “Felony eluding – Turn around. Stop resisting. What the hell are you trying to do? “I wasn’t eluding.” “Stop resisting! She keeps trying to use these keys to like stab.” “No, I do –” “Ma’am.” “She’s trying to use her keys as a weapon.” “No, I’m not.” “Then– you’re being –“ “Just let go of them, ma’am.“ “Let me put them in my pocket.” “No, no, no. Just let go of the keys.” “I didn’t know I was being pulled over.” “O.K. my lights and sirens didn’t give you a clue on Yelm highway, ma’am?” “No.” “No? You just wanted to keep driving and lower your speed? You wanted to hit a bunch of barriers and stuff?” “No, I’m not feeling real well.” “Yeah? Not at all? “No, that’s why I left work.” “She’ll be in custody for DUI and felony eluding.” “I’m not under the influence.” “All right, ma’am. Everything you’re telling me is you’re under the influence, O.K.?” “No, I’m just really tired.”

A state trooper with his gun drawn pulled Nicole McClure, who had a brain bleed, out of her car and arrested her after she crashed into two roundabouts.CreditCredit…Dubin Law Group

The arrest was the beginning of a more than 24-hour ordeal in the criminal justice system at a time when Ms. McClure was in desperate need of medical care. Her lawyers said she was left lying in her own urine on the floor of a cell as jail employees, apparently dismissing her as being drunk, taunted her. When someone finally realized she needed medical attention, records show, doctors discovered a brain bleed and rushed her into surgery. She spent 17 days in the hospital and emerged no longer able to work or to care for herself.

Ms. McClure’s case, detailed in a lawsuit, records and interviews, offers a jarring look into how the speedy assumptions law enforcement officers sometimes make during traffic stops can have devastating consequences.

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