$1.3 million has been paid from the city of Boston to a 64-year-old Black man who was arrested as he suffered a stroke.
Back in April 2019 Al Copeland was driving in Boston when he began to feel sick and pulled over. Not knowing at the moment he was having a stroke.
“I was afraid,” he recalled in an interview with WBUR. “I say, well, at least if anything happens to me, somebody will find me.”
The authories discovered Copeland’s body slumped and barely consious. Instead of calling the medics, officers believed he was drunk and arrested Copeland. The officers wrote in the report that they smelled alcohol on him but Copeland said he hasn’t had a drink since 1995.
Barely standing, Copeland was taken to the police station. According to police records, after being left in the holding cell to use the bathroom, Copeland fell to the floor and banged his head on the wall. Officers left the man alone in the cell to “sleep it off,” records show.
That was the point when Copeland vomitted the cops called the ambulance-five hours after they first let him in the cell.
Once transported to the hospital, the situation didn’t get any better for Copeland. Police records show that medical staff at Tufts Medical Center also assumed he was drunk and left him in the emergency room for seven more hours.
It was only after his wife, Valerie Copeland, tracked down her husband that doctors confirmed he wasn’t drunk and had no drugs or alcohol in his system.
“Why they didn’t assume he was sick?” Valerie asks. “I can only and strongly believe it’s because he’s a Black male.”
When the doctors finally realized he was having a stroke, the damage was already done. Copeland stayed in the hospital for weeks and needed to go through rehab. He even had to resign from his job with the MBTA and he still has trouble walking.
“My balance, my attitude, my appetite,” Copeland told WBUR. “Tasting food, and some cognitive things that are still happening, and some physical things as well.”
The investigation, which ended more than a year ago, concluded that the three officers neglected their duties by not responding quickly enough when Copeland fell and hit his head.
As of to date, none of the officers involved have been disciplined, WBUR reported.