A California city paid a woman $500,000 after police wrongly arrested her on suspicion of DUI when she had actually suffered a stroke behind the wheel, news outlets report.
Robin Winger, 43, was driving her 15-year-old daughter to school in Garden Grove, about 34 miles south of Los Angeles, on Oct. 31, 2011, when she clipped the mirror of a parked vehicle and seemed confused and incoherent, The Orange County Register reported.
Winger’s attorney, Jerry Steering, said that a police officer turned on his lights and attempted to pull Winger over. Winger didn’t notice the lights, and when the officer turned on his siren, Winger pulled over “in a jerking manner,” The Orange County Register reported.
According to Steering, Winger’s daughter told police that something was wrong with her mother and that she wasn’t feeling well, The Associated Press reported.
Winger was given a field sobriety test and examined by a police drug recognition expert before being booked ona DUI charge at the city jail, according to the AP.
Winger was unable to spell her first name or recall her last name and couldn’t answer basic questions, including where she lived or when she last ate, according to a memorandum filed March 2020 in Winger’s appeal.
She told the officer multiple times that she wasn’t feeling well and that she had recently spent time in the hospital, the memo said.
A doctor who later treated Winger said that her inability to state her last name should have been seen as a symptom of a stroke rather than a sign of intoxication, the memo said. Both officers had previously received training on how to identify symptoms of a stroke, the memo states.
Firefighters who were at the scene testified that they believed Winger should have gone to the hospital and that they encouraged her to go, even though she was resistant to the idea, according to the memo.
After being released from jail, Winger was taken to a hospital and diagnosed with a stroke, KNX News Radio reported.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed misdemeanor DUI charges against Winger, but dropped the charges in 2014, KNX reported.
In 2013, Winger sued the city of Garden Grove and Geo Group, the private company that operated the city jail, in federal court, according to the AP.
The Geo Group settled with Winger for $300,000 in 2015, and the city settled for $500,000 in 2021, according to the AP.
Garden Grove Police and the city’s attorney, Patrick Desmond, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from McClatchy News.