Lawsuit Alleges State Trooper Mistakenly Arrested Woman with Brain Bleed for Drunken Driving

A civil rights lawsuit alleges that a Washington State Patrol trooper mistakenly arrested a woman for drunken driving when she was actually suffering from a life-threatening brain bleed. Nicole McClure, the plaintiff, was taken into custody on March 21, 2022, and subsequently booked into Thurston County Jail, where she lay on a cell floor without receiving medical attention for a day. The incident, detailed in a federal lawsuit filed on February 1 in Tacoma, points to severe negligence in handling McClure’s medical emergency.

According to the lawsuit, dash-camera footage and arrest reports reveal that Trooper Jonathan Barnes attempted to stop McClure after observing her driving too slowly and veering out of her lane. McClure, then 38, had reportedly complained of a headache and dizziness, intending to return home from work early. Despite Barnes initiating a stop with emergency lights, McClure continued driving until colliding with a traffic roundabout, disabling her vehicle.

Upon approaching McClure with his gun drawn, Barnes forcibly handcuffed her while accusing her of eluding police, as shown in the dash-camera video. He repeatedly interrogated her about drug and alcohol use, insinuating substance abuse without evidence.

Subsequently, doctors performed surgery to alleviate pressure from a frontal-lobe subdural hematoma by removing part of McClure’s skull. This medical intervention highlights the severity of the misdiagnosis and mistreatment McClure endured during her arrest. The lawsuit underscores the urgent need for accountability and reform within law enforcement practices to prevent similar incidents in the future.