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Lawsuit alleges sheriff’s deputies assaulted woman while she was hospitalized

Malia Ashad filed a lawsuit against five Alameda County Sheriff deputies after they allegedly denied her medical treatment ordered by a physician. (Pointer & Buelna, Lawyers for the People)

(CALIFORNIA) — A California woman alleges she was assaulted by sheriff’s deputies while detained in a hospital in 2022 and awaiting medical treatment, according to a federal lawsuit filed against five officers from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Malia Ashad, 31, who was detained in a hospital, according to the lawsuit that was filed Thursday, can be seen crying and screaming on body camera footage obtained by ABC News, as deputies press her head against the hospital bed as they restrain her. The video, provided by her lawyer, is highly edited and the circumstances before and after it are unclear. The sheriff’s department has not released the body camera footage.

“From start to finish these deputies behaved in a manner consistent with a band of thugs,” Treva Stewart, one of Ashad’s attorneys, said in a statement to ABC News. “Who delighted in attacking the unarmed mother of two rather than disciplined law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect and serve.”

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News in a statement that Ashad was arrested for battery of a person and a peace officer. The district attorney did not pursue charges, according to the sheriff’s office.

“The released clips are a limited and skewed depiction of the incident and do not represent the totality of what occurred,” the sheriff’s office told ABC News. “Beyond stating that the complainant received appropriate medical treatment during that incident, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office must reserve further comment on a lawsuit for which we have not received service.”

Ashad is demanding a jury trial for the five California deputies involved in the incident and to be paid an unspecified amount for damages, penalties, costs, interest and attorney fees, according to the complaint. Deputies allegedly denied Ashad a CT scan ordered by a physician after she was brought to the hospital by police for alleged initial attacks, according to the lawsuit.

“To this day no one has yet explained to me why I was refused this standard medical test after the supervising doctor told me I needed one,” Ashad told ABC News in a statement.

The hospital did not immediately respond to ABC News for comment.

Ashad attended a hearing regarding a civil matter on August 9, 2022, when a woman whom Ashad had a restraining order against began to attack the mother of two by repeatedly striking her in the head and face with a cell phone, according to the complaint. Body camera video shows a woman suddenly stand and hit Ashad in the head multiple times while she remains seated. The video did not show what instigated the scuffle.

Deputies then rush toward the two women, according to body camera footage. Officers handcuffed Ashad’s hands behind her back and forced her arms up before deputies led her out of the courtroom, according to the complaint.

“Instead of arresting the aggressor in the situation,” Ashad’s attorneys told ABC News in the statement, “sheriff’s deputies continued the courthouse attack by striking Ashad twice in her head, causing her to fall and strike her head on a table, seize and temporarily lose consciousness.”

Deputies transported Ashad to Kaiser Permanente San Leandro Campus’ Emergency Department where a physician determined she required a CT scan to rule out a brain injury, according to the complaint.

“We’re not taking her to CT [scan] for anything,” a deputy can be heard saying to hospital staff on body camera video. “All I need is her cleared for incarceration. She’s going to jail.”

“I understand, but that’s the physician’s order,” a hospital staff member responded.

Once at the hospital, Ashad was supposed to be under the care of the hospital staff and was ordered to change into a paper gown, which is standard protocol, the lawsuit states.

“As any woman would, I requested a female officer be present before changing into the paper gown for the CT scan,” Ashad told ABC News in a statement. “I didn’t know then that the same female officer would, and could, simply overrule a supervising physician and cancel medical treatment he determined was necessary.”

Ashad refused to be taken to jail before receiving a CT scan, resulting in deputies grabbing her and holding her down on the hospital bed, which caused her to lose consciousness twice, according to the complaint.

The deputies never allowed Ashad to get a CT scan while in detainment and she was taken to jail instead, according to the lawsuit.

“First, the male deputies viciously attacked Ms. Ashad in the courthouse, leaving her bloodied and concussed. Then they hauled her off to the hospital where they continued their unnecessary and unreasonable attack,” Angel Alexander, one of Ashad’s attorneys, told ABC News in a statement. “The level of callousness, brutality, and arrogance these deputies displayed is stunning even by their standards.”

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