Chico ER's editor on an Oroville case
Women sues city of Oroville
By Michael Weber
OROVILLE >> A lawsuit filed Monday against the city of Oroville and several of its police officers claims that officers failed to admit a woman to a hospital where she was to be medically evaluated, and instead dropped her off outside a waste facility where she was struck by a car soon after and left severely injured for several hours, unable to get up. Dana Marie James, was arrested Sept. 1 and ordered to receive medical evaluation at Oroville Hospital before admission into Butte County Jail, the lawsuit claims. The lawsuit claims the police officers who were in custody of James never admitted her to the hospital, but instead dropped her off in the parking lot with a citation. When James was later found barricaded in the hospital by hospital security, the arresting officer, Robert Sasek, Sgt. Ali Khan and other unidentified officers allegedly made a plan to take her to the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility. The lawsuit claims Sasek drove her to the waste facility, telling James “don’t worry about it” and to “just shut up” when she asked where they were going. James, shortly after she was dropped off at the waste facility, was struck by a car and left severely injured on the side of the road for 10 hours before receiving help, according to the lawsuit. The suit claims the actions of the officers — including a plan to abandon James at the dump despite requiring urgent medical evaluation — placed James in a worse position than prior to officer involvement and posed a “state created danger” that led to James being injured by the car.The suit claim the officers did not take reasonable available measures to reduce the risk of serious harm, and took her to the waste facility willfully, “with conscious or reckless discard for the rights and safety” of James. The plaintiff is seeking damages against the Oroville Police Department and the police officers named in the lawsuit. The Oroville Police Department replied to an email inquiring about the lawsuit and said it won’t comment on pending litigation. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey declined to comment at this time. Timeline Court filings by the plaintiffs provide a timeline of events they claim to have occurred starting with James’ arrests to being left at the dump where she was eventually hit by a car. On Sept. 1, 2022, the day she was left alone at the waste facility, James was arrested twice: once around 2 p.m. and again around 9 p.m., according to the court filing. The filing said James was first arrested on suspicion of trespassing into a homeowner’s swimming pool in triple digit weather. The arresting officer reportedly observed that James was incoherent, had an altered mental status and possibly under the influence. James was reportedly taken to the Butte County Jail where she was cited and released into the streets of Oroville with no bus pass back to Chico and no footwear, as it had been left at the pool, according to the filings. The filing said James was arrested a second time in the evening at the Oroville Home Depot after Oroville police officer Robert Sasek believed she was incapable of taking care of herself and that additional calls to law enforcement would continue if James remained at the hardware store. She was reportedly taken, once again, to the Butte County Jail by Sasek and seen around 10 p.m., but was refused admission into the jail by medical staff unless she was medically cleared by providers at Oroville Hospital. The court filing claims Sasek then took James to the Oroville Hospital, went in and out by himself, and left James in the car until citing and releasing her into the parking lot without bringing her inside. Oroville Hospital reportedly had no record of admitting James for medical evaluation on Sept. 1. The filing said Sasek left the hospital but returned after he was informed by hospital security that James had been trying to open locked doors outside the hospital and eventually “barricaded” herself in a hospital bathroom. James was escorted outside by security, placed into Sasek’s vehicle, then taken to a local gas station where Sasek met with two other police officers, the filing said. According to the filing, the officers discussed taking her to the Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility and upon asking where they were going, James was told “don’t worry about it” and to “just shut up.” Upon arriving at the waste facility, Sasek reportedly told James to exit the vehicle around midnight and left her. James began to walk in the direction she came and was hit by a car. She was knocked into an embankment with several large boulders, lying in and out of consciousness for 10 hours until she got up and workers at a nearby business called 911, according to the filing. The filing said James was hospitalized for 35 days and her injuries led medical providers to remove part of her colon and small intestine. The filing said Sasek did include in his arrest report to the Butte County District Attorney’s Office that he returned to the hospital, placed James in his patrol vehicle or that he left James at the waste facility. “(Officers) treated Ms. James as though she was garbage. Their heartless decision to abandon her at the dump would warrant criminal charges if they had abandoned a dog or cat,” the filing said.