A misunderstanding over a text message took a turn for the worse, resulting in a 911 response and the illegal detention of a disabled woman.
The Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, woman said she was texting a friend about her health issues on February 8, 2023. According to the lawsuit filed, the woman was awaiting surgery to both hips, including a right hip replacement. At the time, she had been struggling to walk and climb stairs.
She meant to text her friend, “I think I just s**t myself.” Instead, the text autocorrected to actually read, “I think I just shot myself.” Worried about the text, the alarmed friend called 911, and Upper Saucon Township police responded to the woman’s home.
The Coopersburg woman allegedly told police through the speaker on her Ring doorbell that she didn’t need help and that the call had resulted from a misunderstood text. Police insisted on seeing her and put a sticker over the camera on the doorbell so the woman wouldn’t know if they left.
After two hours, the woman cracked the door open, resulting in the police dragging her outside, putting her in restraints and smashing her face into the front door. The police also wouldn’t let her back inside unless she allowed officials to enter.
After entering, police found her legally owned gun in the home. The woman was later taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township where she was held for 11 hours until she was released without restrictions. During this time, the woman claimed that she suffered pain and continues to suffer psychological distress.
Attorney Joe Welsh is the executive director of the Lehigh Valley Justice Institute. He said it’s highly likely the police version of events will differ considerably from the victim’s. He said police were likely concerned they’d be negligent if they left the home without entering and the woman harmed herself.
“It’s ultimately going to come down to what the jury determines the facts were,” Welsh said. “The ultimate question here is, ‘Were the officers’ actions objectively reasonable under the facts and circumstances as determined by the jury?'”