Chico woman arrested in September 2022 by Oroville police – who was then driven to a Butte County landfill at midnight and left until she was hit by a passing car while she was trying to walk home – settled down his trial against the city for a $3 million payment, his lawyer said Monday.
Dana Marie James, 54, sued the city of Oroville in federal court last year following the incident, which left her hospitalized with life-threatening injuries for 35 days following the crime of leak. Court records indicate the ordeal forced her to undergo multiple surgeries.
His Auburn attorney, Robert Chalfant, filed the lawsuit six months after the incident and said Monday that the city had agreed to settle the case for $3 million.
“Under the 14th Amendment’s ‘State-Created Danger’ doctrine, a law enforcement officer may not place a person he has encountered in a more dangerous position than that in which he found,” Chalfant wrote in a statement to the Sacramento Bee. “While we are pleased to have reached a settlement in this matter, I hope that the figure reached will serve as a warning to all law enforcement agencies and law enforcement officers, telling them that the practice of “dumping” individuals in remote areas must stop immediately.
“MS. James is an incredibly strong woman and it is a miracle that she survived this ordeal. There is still a long road to recovery.”
Oroville City Administrator Brian Ring declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
Chalfant’s civil rights lawsuit accused city officials of “state-created danger,” willful indifference and negligence for their actions on September 1, 2022.
A dip in a homeowner’s pool
The incident began during a heat wave when a Butte County sheriff’s deputy arrested James for allegedly trespassing while swimming in a homeowner’s pool, according to the suit.
The deputy “observed that Ms. James was incoherent, had an altered mental state, and was possibly under the influence of a controlled substance,” the suit states.
James was taken to jail in Oroville, leaving her shoes behind, booked and then released around 3 p.m., according to the suit. When she was released, she was given neither shoes nor a bus ticket to return home to Chico, the complaint states. The towns are 23 miles apart.
“MS. James was simply thrown into the streets of the City of Oroville,” the complaint states.
Six hours later, James was arrested again, this time by Oroville Police Officer Robert Sasek, who found her at a Home Depot “incoherent and unable to care for herself,” the complaint states .
“Because Officer Sasek believed that Ms. James was incapable of caring for herself and that additional calls for law enforcement assistance would continue if Ms. James remained at Home Depot, Officer Sasek arrested Ms. James,” the suit states.
The police officer took her to jail, but the receiving nurse would not allow her to be registered due to her condition, and Sasek took James to Oroville Hospital, where he made to wait in his vehicle while he went in to request “medical clearance” for James to be booked, the lawsuit says.
But James was never admitted to the hospital, the complaint states, adding that Sasek cited and released James in the parking lot, despite his condition.
“Officer Sasek knew that Ms. James needed urgent medical evaluation and treatment, that she may have been under the influence, and that she was incapable of caring for herself when he approached her. ‘abandoned in the Oroville Hospital parking lot,’ the suit states. “Shortly after leaving Ms. James in the parking lot, an Oroville Hospital security guard called Officer Sasek on his personal cell phone and asked him to return immediately.
“The security guard informed Officer Sasek that Ms. James was walking around outside the hospital trying to open the locked doors. The security guard further informed Officer Sasek that Ms. James was “out of control” and had “barricaded herself” in a hospital bathroom. The security guard was able to get Ms. James out of the restroom and escort her to the Oroville Hospital parking lot.
“Shut up,” cop told traveling woman
Sasek returned to the hospital and was greeted by Sgt. Ali Khan and Officer Isaac Herrera before Sasek put James back in her vehicle and drove her to an area gas station, the suit states.
“Sergeant Khan and Officer Herrera arrived on scene at the gas station and the three officers discussed a plan of action,” the suit states, adding that all three officers “knew and discussed due to the fact that Ms. James was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, was unable to care for herself and urgently needed to be seen by a doctor due to possible substance use controlled, altered mental state, poor physical condition and extremely high heart rate.
“All three officers knew and discussed that Ms. James had been rejected by the prison at the time of her detention because she had an urgent health condition requiring assessment and treatment and needed to obtain “medical clearance” before being accepted into custody at the prison,” the statement said. said the suit. “Officer Herrera suggested that Officer Sasek take her to a remote area of Neal Road, to the dump, and abandon Ms. James at the dump.”
Sasek then drove 15 and a half miles north to the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility while James asked where they were going and Sasek replied “Don’t worry about that” and “shut up”, indicates the pursuit.
Abandoned at the county dump at midnight
They arrived at the dump at midnight and Sasek told her to get out and ignored her questions about where they were, the complaint states.
“You’ll understand, it’s not my problem,” Sasek said before stomping on the gas pedal and spraying James with gravel as he drove away, the suit says.
“It is believed that he was wearing a body-worn camera while transporting Ms. James,” the suit states. “However, Officer Sasek did not activate his body camera while Ms. James was being transported or dropped off on Neal Road.”
The suit also alleges that Sasek “disabled the vehicle’s GPS tracking capabilities so that it could not be monitored while he dumped Ms. James at the dump” and that he also turned off his personal cell phone.
“Officer Sasek failed to inform the radio dispatcher of his departure time and initial mileage while transporting Ms. James, a female arrestee,” the suit states. “The City of Oroville has failed to adopt a policy requiring officers to complete this simple task before transporting arrested women. »
James was left at the dump with no way to call for help, according to the suit.
“It was dark outside and there were no street lights,” the complaint states. “MS. James had no phone, no water, no shoes, no flashlight and no idea where she was.
“Officer Sasek just drove off and dumped her on Neal Road, outside the dump. Officer Sasek, Sergeant Khan, and Officer Herrera treated Ms. James like she was trash. Their heartless decision to abandon him at the landfill would warrant criminal prosecution if they had abandoned a dog or cat.
James attempted to walk back to town using the shoulder of the road until she “was struck on her right side by a passing vehicle and sent flying down an embankment and hitting several large rocks where she remained conscious and unconscious and seriously injured for approximately 10 hours,” the suit states.
The driver did not stop to help her and James remained seriously injured at the base of the embankment until the next morning, when she managed to crawl and ask for help from construction workers at the scene. , the complaint states.
The surgeries affected part of his colon, two toes
She spent the next seven days in intensive care at Enloe Medical Center in Chico, where she was hospitalized for a total of five weeks, the complaint states.
“Due to the severe internal injuries Ms. James suffered, medical providers were forced to remove 30 to 40 percent of her colon and approximately two feet of her small intestine,” the suit states. “MS. James was also informed that due to the internal injuries and the removal of part of her small intestine and part of her colon, she will likely have to wear a colostomy bag for life.
She also underwent several surgeries, including the amputation of two toes, and “continues to experience problems and pain after the amputation,” the suit states.
“MS. James has experienced and will continue to experience pain and suffering, as well as mental and emotional distress for the remainder of his life,” the suit states. “MS. James was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of Officer Sasek’s misconduct.
“MS. James has incurred medical expenses in the past and will incur future medical expenses as she will require care and treatment for the remainder of her life.