The Sheriff’s Office recently reported finding no misconduct related to an incident of a woman with epilepsy who was sent to the San Luis Obispo County jail, but some witnesses to her time in custody have provided differing tales.
On the evening of Oct. 11, Andrea Hansen placed a 911 call asking for assistance because she had been having seizures while walking home from a Pismo Beach sports bar. When police arrived, she was arrested and later charged with misdemeanor counts of public intoxication, battery of a peace officer, and resisting arrest. If convicted, Hansen could face as many as 2 1/2 years in county jail.
She’s pleaded not guilty to all charges.
According to a GoFundMe page Hansen created to raise legal funds for her defense, she alleged that while in jail she wasn’t provided with her medication, that she began going into convulsions, and that a guard kicked her in the head.
Cmdr. Jim Voge, who heads the Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Unit, said he found no evidence of wrongdoing.
“There’s nothing to substantiate any misconduct by sheriff’s employees,” Voge said. He added that regarding Hansen, “We had no issues with her as far as any altercations, any complaints, nothing of that matter.”
Voge said the office hasn’t received a complaint alleging police misconduct, which would prompt a more formal investigation—but given the publicity of the case, he checked to uncover any potential misconduct or mistreatment while Hansen was in custody. Though he couldn’t comment on specifics about Hansen’s medical treatment due to patient privacy laws, Voge said jail staff made medical checks every half hour. He added that a nurse attended to Hansen and provided medical treatment.
However, other inmates who were in custody with Hansen characterized her treatment differently.
One woman responded to a request for comment from New Times by text message: “She was lying on the ground near the cell door. She was in bad shape, requesting a nurse, and specified that she missed two doses of medication. She was laughed at and mocked by the guard. I saw Andrea’s eyes rolling and the guard move her head away from the cell opening with [the guard’s] foot. I also heard the guard tell Andrea to move or she would be kicked.”
Another woman, who asked to go by the name Katrina, said Hansen was clearly in need of medication, but was also yelling at jail staff. Katrina said the guards didn’t kick Hansen in the head, but after repeatedly asking her to move from in front of the door, one of the guards used her foot to push Hansen out of the way. However, Katrina said she didn’t see guards provide Hansen with medication despite her requests and deteriorating condition.
“She was having a really hard time, you could start to see that she was going downhill,” Katrina said. “… I really did feel bad for her, and I felt like they probably just should have given her her freakin’ meds.”
Hansen declined to comment for this story. Her case is scheduled for a hearing on Jan. 8.