Airdrie man mistaken for being drunk who suffered stroke launches $6M lawsuit against RCMP

CALGARY — RCMP made several mistakes the day 73-year-old Alan Ruel was arrested five years ago that led to him having a stroke, according to a lawsuit.

Ruel is suing the RCMP for $6 million after he says he was thrown in a jail cell, where he suffered a debilitating stroke.

“I’m in here, and I don’t know why I’m in here, and I’m going to die and going to die alone,” said Ruel.

Ruel was at a Crossfield bar on July 16, 2015 when he was arrested for public intoxication following complaints from bar employees.

When police arrived, they found Ruel’s car parked on a sidewalk.

He claims he had not had anything to drink.

“If I haven’t been drinking, you can breathalyze me and you’ll see that that’s not the case,” said Ruel.

“He (the RCMP officer) says ‘no, no, we can see’.”

Ruel entered the cell around 6:49 p.m.

Security video shows time passing and he begins to stagger as his condition worsened.

Ruel’s lawyer, Mathew Farrell with Guardian Law Group, says he isn’t sure why police didn’t check on his client sooner.

“When he’s in the cell and he says ‘there’s something wrong with me, there’s something wrong with my head,’ a big red flag should go up,” said Farrell.  

After more than 18.5 hours in the drunk tank, doctors said Ruel suffered a stroke, paralyzing his left side.

“I would say is maybe 80 to 85 per cent of what it used to be,” he said.

In a statement of defence, police say they made visual checks on Ruel.

More than 12 hours after being placed in the cell, security video shows one officer pop their head inside to check on Ruel.

“I was afraid, I was scared, you’re alone, nobody to talk to, you ask for help, but no response,” said Ruel.

Ruel is found lying on the ground, saying he can’t get up. An RCMP officer checks on him and EMS is then called.

“The police just decided that he belonged in a dunk tank and there he stayed until they decided to let him out,” said Farrell.

Ruel was transported to Foothills hospital where doctors diagnosed him with a right middle cerebral artery distribution ischaemic stroke with secondary petechial haemorrhagic transformation.

The Airdrie man has been left with lower facial weakness in his left side and decreased function in his limbs.

A statement of defence by RCMP claims they had “reasonable and probable” grounds to believe Ruel was intoxicated and his detention was justified.

It adds that visual checks were done every 15 minutes and there were four officer interactions with Ruel.
CTV news reached out to RCMP headquarters for comment.

In a statement, it says “RCMP policy is to not comment while civil proceedings are ongoing.” None of the claims have been proven in court. 

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