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Man Says Police Who Ignored His Pleas After He Suffered Stroke

April 23, 1996

BOSTON (AP) _ Richard Kelley was relieved to see a police cruiser pulling up behind him. A stroke had just numbed his left side, and he was struggling to control his car. He expected the officers to help.

Instead, he claims, the police dragged him out of his car, pronounced him drunk, ignored his cries for help and held him at the state police barracks for seven hours.

He says the delay left him paralyzed and in need of constant medical care.

Kelley, 51, is seeking unspecified damages against state police. In a lawsuit filed in federal court last month, he claims the officers recklessly violated his constitutional rights.

James G. Gilbert, an attorney for the state, said Tuesday that the troopers ``acted and reacted appropriately and followed all the procedures.″

In 1994, Kelley was returning to his home in Plymouth from an auction. In Braintree, he lost control of his car and hit a guardrail.

According to court papers, Troopers Michael Downing and James Arroyo, with the help of two unnamed Weymouth police officers, yanked Kelley from his car and handcuffed him. Kelley ``was unable to exit the vehicle on his own,″ Downing wrote in his police report.

When Kelley fell to the ground, the four officers carried him to the cruiser, then took him to the barracks in Norwell.

``I told them, `I need help! I need help! My left side doesn’t work,‴ Kelley told The Enterprise of Brockton.

At the barracks, Kelley repeatedly fell off a bench, and the desk sergeant and other officers taunted him, he alleges.

Eventually, he was taken to South Shore Hospital, where doctors determined that he had suffered a stroke. A test found no alcohol or drugs in his bloodstream, according to the hospital report filed with the court.

Police charged Kelley with driving under the influence. The charges were later dropped.

Sgt. Robert Blazuk of the Norwell barracks said the troopers ``followed our procedures as we were supposed to.″ He said paramedics were called, but Kelley repeatedly refused treatment.

According to the police report, Kelley ``appeared to be in a drunken condition″ and smelled of alcohol.

Trooper Blake Gilmore, head of the medical unit at the State Police Academy, said he did not know about this particular case. But he said that stroke victims, diabetics and others can sometimes appear drunk.

He is pushing to have more emergency medical technicians trained as state troopers. Currently, 40 state troopers are also EMTs.

Kelley said that the left side of his body is paralyzed and he can no longer climb stairs. He said his wife and daughter have had to drop out of school to run his real estate business and take care of him.

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