Police left stroke victim in cell for 18 hours because they ‘thought he was drunk’

Chiara Giordano
CCTV footage of Alan Ruel, from Alberta, Canada, lying on the floor of a police cell after allegedly suffering a massive stroke following his arrest for being drunk in public in July 2015: CBC News

A stroke victim was allegedly left in a cell for 18 hours because police thought he was drunk.

Alan Ruel, from Alberta, Canada, was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in July 2015 for being drunk in public.

The 73-year-old claims he was refused a breathalyser test before he was held in a prison cell for more than 18 hours, where his condition slowly deteriorated, according to a lawsuit.

CCTV footage documenting Mr Ruel’s time in the cell shows him entering shortly before 7pm, at which point he was still able to walk around.

However he can be seen repeatedly collapsing on the floor a number of hours later – after he is believed to have suffered a massive stroke, according to a neurologist’s report submitted to court.

He can then be seen lying motionless half naked on the concrete floor 12 hours after he was first put inside the tiny room.

Mr Ruel, a former offshore drilling consultant, told CBC it was “probably one of the worst days of my life”.

He added: “I actually thought I was going to die at one point, and the thing that scared me is that I was going to die alone.”

Mr Ruel is now suing the police force for C$6 (£3.5m) over the incident.

In footage obtained by CBC, a police officer appears to finally enter the cell to check on Mr Ruel at noon the day after his arrest.

He attempts to drag Mr Ruel up off the floor by his right arm, but he is unable to stand.

An hour later, another police officer and a paramedic arrive with a stretcher and Mr Ruel is taken to hospital.

According to a lawsuit filed against the RCMP, an initial stroke is believed to have caused Mr Ruel to slur his speech and appear confused on the day of his arrest.

Before he was detained, he reportedly entered a bar to see his friend, the owner, but was kicked out by an employee who believed he had arrived drunk since he only ordered a glass of water.

The worker called the police and the arresting officers reported smelling alcohol on Mr Ruel’s breath, CBC said, citing police reports.

RCMP has denied Mr Ruel was refused access to water while in custody, and also denies he suffered a medical episode before his arrest, according to court documents.

Mr Ruel, who was never charged with a crime, still struggles to use the left side of his body and walks with a limp more than four years after his arrest.

The Independent has contacted RCMP for comment.

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