/  10.13.2021


A Black man who was arrested as he suffered a stroke in 2019 received a $1.3 million settlement. As multiple local news outlets reported, the city of Boston paid the money to Al Copeland nearly two years after he was wrongfully accused of being drunk.

According to recently-obtained records, Copeland was driving when he experienced nausea and decided to pull over by the Berklee School of Music, where he sat nearly unconscious in his vehicle for two hours. It was there that he was discovered by officers, who approached him and placed him in handcuffs. Per the records, authorities claimed the 62-year-old reeked of alcohol.

Unbeknownst to them, the man has been sober for 20 hours and was actually suffering from a stroke. He was taken to a police station, where he struggled to stand, fell and hit his head on a cell wall before throwing up. He was subsequently transferred to Tufts Medical Center, where he was also assumed to be drunk.

After seven hours in the emergency room, doctors confirmed Copeland had a stroke, ruling out cops’ beliefs that he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The stroke led to his weeks-long hospitalization, his inability to walk and perform certain tasks, and eventually his resignation from his job.

Following the tragic occurrence, Copeland’s attorney contacted the city of Boston, prompting an internal investigation, which unveiled a slew of mistakes, including the officers’ delayed response to Copeland’s accident in the cell. Authorities immediately offered to pay the $1.3 million settlement.

Along with the payout, the 62-year-old has received an apology from Tufts, who has not only hired social workers to assist patients with trouble communicating but has taken measures to address healthcare disparities. No officers, however, have been charged in the incident; the city of Boston and Boston police have remained mum on the matter.

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