Video shows woman with brain bleed mistakenly arrested for DUI

A woman in desperate need of medical attention was instead thrown in jail for more than a day, accused of driving under the influence.

Now, her attorney is suing the state and Thurston County for how they handled the incident.

"Every time we look further into this, it is more outrageous than the last time," said Anne Vankirk, the attorney for the woman, Nicole McClure. "It hits you. This is a person whose life is never going to be the same. And she’s never going to be the same," she added.

Vankirk says following this incident, McClure has brain damage and now she cannot take care of herself.

In March 2022, Washington State Patrol Trooper Jonathan Barnes pulled over McClure. The lawsuit says the reason for the stop was because McClure was driving too slowly and swerving.

Dashcam video FOX 13 News obtained shows the entire arrest.

In the video, Barnes tells McClure she is under arrest for DUI and eluding.

The video starts with Barnes running up to her car, with his gun drawn and pointing it at her. McClure steps out of the car with her hands up, then Barnes cuffs her and arrests her on the hood of the patrol car.

McClure tells Barnes she was driving home from work because she was feeling dizzy and sick. 


The lawsuit says no officers did a sobriety test or a breathalyzer on McClure. Instead, she was taken to the Thurston County jail where she sat in a cell for more than a day.

Vankirk says inside the jail, officials made fun of McClure for being drunk, but she was not intoxicated.

After about 27 hours, Vankirk tells FOX 13 News her client finally got medical treatment. Doctors determined McClure had a brain bleed. She went into surgery, and was in the hospital for 17 days, Vankirk said.

"This was really a systemic failure for Nicole," said Vankirk.

She says Nicole has permanent brain damage; she can’t take care of herself without help from friends, and no law enforcement agencies apologized for the incident.

FOX 13 News reached out to WSP and Thurston County, who said they are aware of the incident but cannot comment on the case.

The Thurston County Sheriff released a statement saying:

"This week I was advised of a new lawsuit naming TCSO Jail as one of the defendants. The lawsuit stems from an incident that occurred in March of 2022. While this incident occurred approximately eight months prior to me taking office as elected Sheriff, I take complete responsibility as Thurston County’s current Sheriff to ensure TCSO works closely with our attorneys to thoroughly investigate the allegations made in the complaint. 

The nature of the allegations as reported are serious and will be treated as such. The safety of our inmates and staff continues to be our top priority."

FOX 13 News investigated Barnes' history as a trooper with WSP.

According to online records, he graduated in June 2019, and he received the Core Values Award from WSP. The award is defined, in part, by "…acting with integrity and accountability, respecting and protecting individual rights, and earning the trust and confidence of the public."

Incidents like McClure’s do happen, but not with the same outcome. In the same year as McClure’s situation, police in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina pulled over a driver for nearly the exact circumstances as what happened to McClure. However, officers determined something was medically wrong with the driver and called for an ambulance.

At the hospital, doctors determined the driver had a brain tumor, and the woman went into emergency surgery. She thanked the officers for helping save her life.