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Woman sues after police put a bag over her head, put her in a chokehold and forcefully drew blood


Police brutality

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(NaturalNews) A Texas woman is suing Austin police for placing a bag over her head, strapping her to a chair and using a "choke hold" and "pressure points" to draw blood for a DUI test, according to legal papers she has filed.

As reported by Courthouse News Service, Caroline Callaway of Austin has filed suit against the city of Austin, Travis County, the Austin police officers involved in the case, county sheriff's deputies, Pro-Touch Nurses and one of its employees, alleging that they unlawfully searched her and used excessive force, as well as assault and battery, medical malpractice and negligence.

In court filings, Callaway said that Officer Patrick Oborski, a defendant in the suit, arrested her after she refused to take a breath test for suspected drunk driving. She further stated that she told officers she suffered from anxiety disorder and that she was taking medications to treat it.

After her arrest, Callaway said officers took her to the Travis County jail, where a number of other officers then proceeded to force the blood draw.

"Strapped into 'the chair'"

In an interview, Callaway's attorney, Daphne Pattison Silverman, told Courthouse News Service that another defendant, Shannon Ramsey-Graham, actually performed the blood draw as an employee for Pro-touch Nurses, a firm that contracts with the Austin Police Department for such procedures.

The news service further reported:

To take her blood, Callaway says, the defendants took her to a small padded room, where she was surrounded by officers and strapped into "the chair," with her legs, wrists and shoulders restrained.

She claims she "began to involuntarily tremble from anxiety and fear," which prompted the officers to put a bag over her head that covered her eyes, nose and mouth. The bag is a protective hood known as a Tranzport Hood.


Callaway stated in her court filing that she was unable to see and experienced problems breathing due to the bag. Also, during the first attempt at a blood draw, Ramsey-Graham's "needle popped out because of Ms. Callaway's shaking and blood spewed onto one of the officers."

The filing continues: "(D)efendants continued the abuse determined to take Ms. Callaway's blood. In order to stop Ms. Callaway from trembling, one of the officers used choke hold pressure points on her neck, until her body went limp. Defendant Ramsey-Graham stabbed Ms. Callaway again while Ms. Callaway was limp. When the officer released her neck, Ms. Callaway gasped for air. She could not see because there was a bag over her head, but she felt the weight of a boot in the crook of her arm, which, along with the rest of her body, was still tied to the chair. Ms. Callaway was suspected of committing a misdemeanor."

Unsafe, unsanitary procedure

The Austin woman said she was subjected to brutality and an unlawful search though she "had presented at the most only passive and verbal resistance at any point during her arrest," court papers said.

Callaway alleged the blood draw was performed in an "improper manner without following the medical profession's commonly recognized procedures for safe and sanitary blood draws." Also, she alleged that the city of Austin and Travis County were aware that she could be injured from such blood draws at the jail.

Pattison Silverman said Callaway was eventually charged with DWI based on her blood test results; that criminal trial goes to court in April. But she added that she hoped the lawsuit would force a change in blood-draw policy at the jail because it is an unsanitary environment that is also unsafe and can provide unreliable results.

Callaway wants to "change a government policy here and nationwide for the betterment of all citizens," her attorney said.

Sources:

http://www.courthousenews.com

http://www.statesman.com

http://www.austinchronicle.com

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