Allen Daniel Hicks’ Death: Inmate Who Died From Untreated Stroke Triggers Statewide Health Dept. Investigation

Allen Daniel Hicks
Allen Daniel Hicks spent 36 hours in a Florida prison before officials realized he was in the midst of a medical emergency. Tampa Bay Times

In May 2012, Allen Daniel Hicks was taken into police custody after officers saw him veering on Interstate 275 in Tampa, Fla. He was then arrested, booked, and placed in a cell even though he was "rambling incoherently and dragging his left leg." Months later, the 51-year-old died after being diagnosed with an ischemic stroke. Now, the Florida State Dept. of Health wants answers.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Hicks' stroke went untreated for 36 hours before he was taken to Tampa General Hospital and diagnosed with a severe ischemic stroke. Paramedics at the scene when Hicks was pulled over reportedly recommended that he be taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Officers ignored the paramedics and brought Hicks to jail instead.

When a clot blocks blood from circulating to the brain, it is known as am ischemic stroke. The blockage can interrupt usage of key parts of the brain and deprive brain tissues of oxygen and food.

"A stroke is a medical emergency. Prompt treatment is crucial. Early action can minimize brain damage and potential complications," says the Mayo Clinic.

What police saw as Hicks being defiant were likely just symptoms of his stroke. People having a stroke have trouble walking, speaking, and understanding. They can also experience numbness in the face, arm, or leg — which would explain why Hicks was dragging his leg when police booked him.

"You should be able to get help from medical personnel and police officers and not be taken to jail, and we feel the highway patrol and EMT should have much better training on recognizing stroke victims," Hicks family attorney Paul Rebein said.

Earlier this month, the Hicks family received a $1 million settlement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. Now, the health department is investigating the circumstances surrounding Hicks' death, focusing primarily on Armor Correctional Health Services, the company contracted to handle prisoners' health emergencies.

"The Dept. of Health is reviewing the health care provided to Allen Daniel Hicks, Sr.," said health department investigator Carol Gammans.

View surveillance video from Hicks' arrest below.

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