New Mexico residents would like to believe that the police are there to protect and serve. Nobody ever wants to think a police officer could be responsible for a serious injury to a citizen -- more specifically a brain injury. However, a recent lawsuit from a New Mexico man shows otherwise. The man is suing the local police department for causing him to suffer a serious brain injury.
A few years ago, the New Mexico man was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. Reports say that officers asked the man to perform a sobriety test, which he failed. The police officers then requested a breathalyzer test to determine how much alcohol the man had consumed. The man's test showed no sign of alcohol, but because of his failed sobriety test, he was arrested and taken into custody.
It turned out the man was not drunk or impaired by any substances. Rather, his behavior and symptoms, which likely caused him to fail the sobriety test, were the result of him suffering from West Nile Virus. Even though he showed signs of distress following his arrival to the jail, he was not evaluated by police or medical staff. It was believed that his behavior stemmed from being under the influence. Due to brain swelling after receiving no treatment, the man suffered a permanent brain injury.
Tragedies like this one in New Mexico are sad reminders that every person should be taken seriously, regardless of a suspicion of impairment. When one suffers a serious injury, it can often change that person's life forever. This man may have felt alone following this tragic incident, but he determined his legal options. He was then granted approval by the judicial system to pursue a lawsuit against the police department for contributing to his injury. In similar situations, people have the right to pursue financial restitution for their suffering caused by the negligence of another.
Source: kdbc.com, NM officials sued by El Paso man with West Nile Virus, Keagan Harsha, Oct. 29, 2013