A man who says he suffered an epileptic seizure at the wheel is suing the Dallas Police Department for taking him to jail instead of the hospital.
“I want change,” plaintiff Michael Ryan said. “This is not just about me. This is about policies and protocols.”
Ryan was driving on Sunday, July 21, 2013, at about 10 a.m. when he lost control behind the wheel and side-swiped four parked vehicles on Goliad Avenue in Dallas. His 3-year-old daughter was strapped in the back seat.
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Ryan said he did not know he had epilepsy before that day but he has suffered several other seizures since that first one.
“It was almost like a dream,” he said. “If you’ve never had a seizure, then you can’t really explain it. But it was horrifying. It was very scary. It’s like waking up from a dream and then your worst nightmare happens.”
Ryan said he passed two breathalyzer tests after the accident but police were still convinced he was intoxicated.
Ryan’s wife is a medical doctor. She arrived at the scene and told officers he needed medical help. But police took Ryan to jail, where he stayed for 18 hours.
“I continued to ask for medical help, continued to tell them I was not intoxicated on any drugs whatsoever, and they were just determined that I was,” he said.
Ryan said he was injured in the accident with a severe concussion and three broken bones in his back, but he only received medical attention after leaving jail.
“The importance of this lawsuit is the get the procedures changed so that when somebody presents to the officers and says, 'I’ve got a medical condition,' that they take the time to listen and get that medical help,” Ryan’s attorney Rogge Dunn said. “Even if you think he’s guilty, there’s no reason you can’t take him in handcuffs to see a medical doctor and spend 15 or 20 minutes to avert a serious consequence.”
Requests for response to the lawsuit to Dallas Police and the Dallas City Attorney were not answered Friday.