Former suspect suing officers

Laguna Beach woman claims that Newport police failed to break her fall after she was handcuffed for allegedly shoplifting at Fashion Island.

October 16, 2009|By Brianna Bailey

A woman is suing Newport Beach and two police officers for injuries she claims she sustained after collapsing in the Fashion Island parking lot, when police arrested her on suspicion of shoplifting at Bloomingdale’s in May 2008, according to court documents.

In legal papers filed this week in Orange County Superior Court, Joan McCollum, 55, of Laguna Beach, claims negligence on the part of Newport Beach police officers who handcuffed her during her arrest, even though she felt dizzy.

McCollum collapsed while in police custody and sustained a serious neck injury that later required surgery, she claims in legal papers.


McCollum was charged with one misdemeanor count of grand theft in the incident, but that charge was later dropped, according to court records. McCollum doesn’t specify how much money she is asking the court to award her in the complaint.

On May 25, 2008, police responded to a call to the Fashion Island Bloomingdale’s, after a store employee accused McCollum of shoplifting, according to the complaint. McCollum complained that she was feeling dizzy, and paramedics were called to the scene.

“As a direct result of the carelessness and negligence of the defendants, plaintiff fell to the pavement. With hands cuffed behind her back, she had no opportunity to break her fall,” the complaint states.

The woman’s attorney, Eric Traut, could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

Newport Beach spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said the city would withhold commenting on the lawsuit until its attorneys had time to review the case.

The city’s initial investigation into McCollum’s claims found that they were without merit, Finnigan said.

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