Man Given Gift Card After Wrongful Arrest

A Pennsylvania man is suing police and healthcare workers after being wrongfully arrested and then given a gift card as an apology.

Eugene Wright, 63, is suing the Meadville Police Department, Stairways Behavioral Health, and the Meadville Medical Center for wrongfully arresting and then drugging him last June.

The former auto parts store worker, now retired, was just coming home from his shift on June 15 when he was stopped at his door by police and officials from Stairways Behavioural Health, a mental health crisis center. They said they were taking him back to hospital for making threats at a doctor’s office earlier that day.

“They explained to me earlier that day at 10 a.m. I was at an orthopedic office threatening people. I was at work,” Wright told WPXI News.

It was a case of mistaken identity. Another man named Eugene Wright and a patient at Stairways Behavioural Health had berated people at a doctor’s office that morning. Rather than check a driver’s license or social insurance number, the police just came to the wrong Wright’s door and cuffed him.

Police drove Wright to Meadville Medical Center where doctors injected him with Haldol, a powerful antipsychotic, and Ativan (also known as Lorazepam), a powerful sedative. From there Wright says he spent the rest of the afternoon in a drugged stupor he can barely remember.

“I was powerless. I had no control of what was going on down there,” said Wright to local news.

Eventually, medical staff realized their mistake and that they had drugged the wrong guy. As an apology, Stairways Behavioural Health gave Wright a $50 gift card to a local steakhouse. Meadville Medical Center gave him a $25 gift card to Walmart.

That evidently wasn’t enough for Wright. He filed papers in federal court on Wednesday seeking unspecified damages from the medical center, crisis group, and Meadville police.

“Right from the beginning, I offered — ‘Please, check my identity. Call my work,'” Wright said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Nobody would do that. Not even the hospital. No one would look at any of that. They just kept insisting they had the right person.”

Meadville police and medical officials have so far refused to comment.

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