Woman arrested at gunpoint after life-threatening stroke mistaken for drunk driving

Footage shows the moment a Washington State Trooper arrested Nicole McClure at gunpoint, while she was suffering from a life-threatening brain bleed

A woman arrested on suspicion of drunk driving was actually experiencing a life-threatening stroke, a civil rights lawsuit claims.

Nicole McClure crashed her car while suffering a stroke on March 21, 2022, in Washington.

Rather than being taken to hospital though, she was arrested and booked into jail where lawyers representing her claim officials mocked her.

When Ms McClure, 40, was eventually taken to hospital, she underwent emergency brain surgery and was hospitalised for 17 days.

Doctors later removed part of her skull to relieve pressure building inside her brain from a frontal-lobe subdural hematoma.

Nicole McClure had part of her skull removed to relieve the pressure on her brain. Credit: Dubin Law Firm

According to the lawsuit, dash-camera video and arrest reports, Trooper Jonathan Barnes tried to stop McClure after he noticed her driving too slowly and wandering out of her lane.

McClure, then 38, had complained of a headache and dizziness and was headed home from work early.

Barnes flashed his emergency lights to initiate a stop, but McClure kept slowly driving until she collided with a traffic roundabout.

Dashcam footage of the incident then shows the shocking moment the Ms McClure was arrested at gunpoint, slammed onto the hood of officer Barnes' car and interrogated.

In the video, trooper Barnes repeatedly asks McClure if she was on drugs or had been drinking.

“When’s the last time you used meth?” he asks. “When was the last time you used heroin?”

“I haven’t … I don’t,” she said, according to the video. “I’m confused. I think I’m tired.”

Barnes arrested McClure on suspicion of intoxicated driving and felony evading.

A DUI arrest report showcased that troopers did not ask sobriety questions when arresting McClure. Credit: CNN

McClure was then taken to Thurston County Jail, where she allegedly received no medical attention for over 24 hours despite her asking for help, vomiting, and her inability to stand up.

Ms McClure is now suing Thurston County police for ignoring the symptoms of her stroke.

Her attorney, Anne Vankirk, said in a statement: “Nicole suffers from severe traumatic brain injury and remains unable to care for herself or engage with life in meaningful ways.

“Had Nicole received immediate medical attention, her condition would have been significantly easier to treat and the outcome far less severe."

“Nicole recalls being laughed at and told she should ‘Have another shot,’” which she took as a taunting reference to the belief that she was drunk, not sick, Vankirk said.

Nicole McClure was booked into the Thurston County Jail instead of receiving medical attention. Credit: Dubin Law Firm

Chris Loftis, a state patrol spokesperson, said the agency is aware of the lawsuit but doesn’t comment on pending litigation. He said Barnes wasn’t disciplined.

Tara Tsehlana, a spokesperson for the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which defends the jail, said the county has been served with the lawsuit.

“While we can’t discuss the specifics of any pending litigation, I can confirm that the safety of inmates, staff, and the general public remains a top priority for the Thurston County Corrections Facility,” she said.

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