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Suit says man had stroke, not drunk

Costa Mesa police are accused of failing to get prompt medical help. The plaintiff is seeking $250,000 in damages.

January 20, 2007|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

A man arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol was actually suffering from a stroke, according to a lawsuit filed against the city of Costa Mesa.

Salvador Jimenez, a gardener, accused police of negligence and failure to provide medical treatment in the civil lawsuit filed last week in Santa Ana. He is seeking more than $250,000 in damages in connection with his arrest two years ago by Officer Heather Keller.

Costa Mesa officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Jimenez, who had a prior arrest on the same charge, was taken to jail in October 2005 after collapsing in the 1100 block of Charleston Street. Officers ordered him to stand, but he couldn't because he was having a stroke, Jimenez's attorney, Peter L. Nisson, said.

At the jail, officers again ordered him to stand, the suit says. Jimenez tried, but fell several times.

"The officers in charge did nothing to assist [the] plaintiff but made his condition worse by trying to make him stand up," the suit states.

After nearly 10 hours in jail, Nisson said, Jimenez was taken by paramedics to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, where doctors determined that he had suffered a stroke. His condition worsened because arresting officers refused to get him medical treatment on time, the attorney said.

"If the officers were properly performing their duties," he said, "they would have called for a medical evaluation at the time he came into the jail. "

Nisson said that the Orange County district attorney's office dismissed the case after determining that Jimenez, who has lost control of his right arm and is no longer able to work, was not drunk at the time of the arrest.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office could not confirm that.

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mai.tran@latimes.com

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