"It took his wife three hours to find him in a hospital bed, she said. Her husband was unconscious and breathing through a tube down his throat. 'I started screaming,' she said. 'I thought he was dead.'”
Police came to North Memorial Medical Center looking for an armed man in a car. They found John Powell, a 48-year-old Minneapolis man, and arrested him at gunpoint on a rainy summer night.
But Powell was black — not the white or light-skinned Hispanic person the caller had described. And he was holding a set of car keys, not a revolver. The 911 caller, a nurse at North Memorial, confirmed it on the scene: They had the wrong guy.
Instead of releasing Powell, police asked for assistance from nearby paramedics, according to police reports, and the paramedics gave Powell a shot of a powerful sedative called ketamine.
Powell struggled to breathe, and needed to be taken into emergency care and intubated, according to a federal lawsuit Powell filed against North Memorial and two police departments he said were involved in the 2015 encounter.
In an interview, Powell and his wife, Sylvia Majors, said he spent a day in the hospital unconscious. “They said I had a 25 percent chance of waking up,” Powell said.