Family disputes patient's arrest: 'It ruined Christmas for everybody'

Family disputes patient's arrest: 'It ruined Christmas for everybody' »Play Video
Susan Brown didn't take it personally when her husband, Jimmy Joe Brown, shoved her while he was a patient at OHSU. Doctors had diagnosed him with delirium, but the hospital's public safety officers arrested him when he was discharged.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A local family is disputing an arrest that put their loved one in jail on Christmas. 

They admit Jimmy Joe Brown, 50, shoved his wife while he was a patient at Oregon Health and Science University, but they say his medical condition caused his aggressive behavior.

"This is not domestic violence on any scale, not even close," his son Tommy Brown said. "It’s not my dad who did that; that was the delirium."

Jimmy Joe Brown’s wife, Susan, has medical documentation to show doctors diagnosed him with delirium, which doctors said they see "frequently" in the hospital. Delirium can cause irritable and aggressive behavior.

Susan Brown said she’s never felt afraid of her husband, and even his doctors reassured her about his temporary change in behavior.

"They gave me a hug and said, ‘You have to remember this is not Jim, don’t take it personally,'" she said.

Jimmy Joe Brown does not have a criminal history.  His doctors agreed he was getting better and could go home for the holiday.

"Christmas was the only day he knew it was Christmas, and it was December, and it was 2013," Susan said. "I thought, ‘I'm going to get my Jim back.'"

Instead, OHSU Public Safety officers arrested him when he was discharged from the hospital. OHSU wouldn’t comment about the case or whether officers consulted his doctors, but the hospital sent the following statement:

"OHSU police officers are required to enforce state laws in order to keep our patients and visitors safe at all times… Oregon state law mandates that when a peace officer has probable cause to believe an assault has occurred between family members, the officer is required to arrest and take into custody the alleged assailant."

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office decided Thursday not to press charges. Jimmy Joe Brown was released from jail Thursday night.

"It did a lot of damage," Susan said through tears. "It ruined Christmas for everybody."

We learned about this story after the family contacted us with a news tip. If there's something you want us to know about, email our newsroom at newstips@katu.com.