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Epileptic woman calls 9-1-1 for help, beaten when seizures mistaken for ‘resisting arrest’

Published: November 13, 2014
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(Photo courtesy of Andrea Starr)

(Photo courtesy of Andrea Starr)

PISMO BEACH, CA — A woman was arrested and suffered numerous injuries after she phoned for help during an epileptic episode. She alleges that she was needlessly assaulted after her seizures were interpreted as “resisting arrest.”

The incident happened on October 11th, 2014, after Andrea Starr called 9-1-1 because of medical distress. She says that she was on the beach alone, suffering from an epileptic seizure that was exacerbated by consumption of alcohol. She is diagnosed with a condition called Juvenile Myoclonic Syndrome, which is a rare form of generalized epilepsy with retractable seizures that do not respond well to medication.

“I was having seizures, going in and out of consciousness,” said Ms. Starr. “I did not even understand where I was. I called 9-1-1 crying, begging for help. Instead, multiple police showed up, no medics, or ambulance.”

Ms. Starr alleges that the responding Pismo Beach police officers assaulted her instead of giving her medical help.

“I am not a criminal,” Ms. Starr said. “I called 9-1-1. I never meant to act in aggression, as I was very confused. The police just assumed I was on drugs and was psychotic.”

(Photo courtesy of Andrea Starr)

(Photo courtesy of Andrea Starr)

Police attempted to take the woman into custody for public intoxication. In doing so, Ms. Starr reports that her legs involuntarily convulsed, which police interpreted as resistance.  The rough handling that followed left her with numerous contusions.

Aside from not getting the medical treatment she needed, Ms. Starr was arrested and taken to jail. She was charged with battery against a police officer, as well as resisting arrest and public intoxication.  Remarkably, the abuse did not stop there.

“When I was in jail, I started to convulsive on the floor of the jail cell due to lack of medication. It had been a long time at that point,” Ms. Starr said. “A police officer came in and kicked me in the head because ‘my head was too close to the door.’ This made multiple girls start to cry, as it was very obvious I was having seizures and could have died.”

Andrea Starr is seeking funding to push back against her assailants in court. She says that she has no criminal record and was a victim of excessive force. To help her seek justice, visit her page on

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