A Covid nurse from Tennessee has placed her baby in state care for weeks after she was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) even though she was completely sober and exhausted from a prolonged seizure.
Catherine Slayton, a single Franklin mom, was arrested on September 21 last year after she picked her son out of foster care, according to recent local reports.
A nursery employee complained that a mother who came to pick up her five-year-old appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance, according to a police report.
Complainant Lydia Oselton said Ms Slayton “looked like she was stuck” and that she was talking to herself, scratching her head “as she let the child run into the parking lot.”
Ms Oselton called the police when the mother and baby were about to leave the nursery parking lot. Police records showed that officials arrived shortly after and stopped Ms Slayton as she was leaving the parking lot.
The complaint states that Ms. Slayton “slurred speech and her movements and behavior seemed to slow down”.
When officials asked her if she drinks or uses any kind of medication, she said she takes Adderall and Prozac to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
“She mentioned that she took her medication earlier that morning, she hasn’t taken any since then and she hasn’t taken anything else.”
Police said they arrested her based on her behaviour, slurred speech and performance on a field sobriety test.
Her son was placed in children’s services after Ms Slayton told police that she had no friends or family in the area.
A blood test was also performed on Mrs. Slayton and taken as evidence.
She said her son had been in state custody for nine weeks even as she waited for her blood alcohol levels – which eventually came six months later and showed she was not intoxicated.
Ms Slayton said she was “totally surprised” when police asked her to stop the car that day.
“It never occurred to me that anyone thought I was disabled,” she told NBC affiliate WSMV4.
Ms Slayton said she took a day off after 41 hours of working three days to care for Covid patients.
Bodycam footage of the incident shows Ms Slayton shivering while taking a one-legged test conducted by police officers.
“It dawned on me, my God, if I didn’t pass this sobriety test, I might not take my son home,” she was quoted as saying. Inside Edition magazine.
“As soon as I realized it, I started shivering.
“I knew I didn’t do well in the field test, but I really thought they’d be able to differentiate between someone who was tired and someone who had an actual disability,” she said.
Six months later, when a blood alcohol test showed that she had not been drunk, the charges against her were dropped.
She said being away from her son was the “worst pain” she had ever experienced.
“It was like a part of me was missing.”
In a statement, Franklin Police defended the officers’ decision to arrest Ms Slayton based on her performance on a sobriety test and camera footage.
“Since there was no one to take custody of the child, the Department of Children’s Services was contacted. They had jurisdiction over the next steps with respect to the child, not the Franklin Police Department. The Franklin Police Department has no control over how blood tests are handled.”
The statement claimed that the officers made the “correct call to provide the safety of the child, Mrs. Slayton and the other drivers” and added that the coroner also found probable cause to support the charges.