A woman alleges in a federal lawsuit that law enforcement personnel engaged in a coverup after forcibly removing her impaired son from Loma Linda University Medical Center in 2021 and then dropping him off near a railroad crossing in Redlands, where he was killed by a train.
In the complaint filed last week, Deborah Moller says Redlands police officers and San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies knew 33-year-old Bret Breunig of Beaumont was a danger to himself and others, and yet didn’t take him to a police station or a medical facility where he would have been safe.
“County and city quickly reached a meeting of minds to cover up their illegal behavior and conspired with one another to fabricate facts and details regarding decedent’s incident, withhold and/or destroy evidence of the incident, and put themselves in the best possible but false light, attempting to justify their failures,” the complaint states.
The suit, naming the city of Redlands, San Bernardino County and Loma Linda University Medical Center as defendants, seeks unspecified damages.
Redlands officials declined to discuss the allegations. “The Redlands Police Department will not comment on the alleged conduct of another agency, nor do we comment on matters of litigation,” said city spokesman Carl Baker.
San Bernardino County and Loma Linda University officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The suit alleges Breunig went to Loma Linda University Medical Center on Aug. 18, 2021, for treatment of an infection to his left foot and leg that impeded his ability to walk.
For reasons that aren’t specified in the suit, the hospital staff allegedly requested that deputies and police officers forcibly remove Breunig from the emergency department around 11:30 a.m.
“Responding officers and responding deputies made contact with decedent,” says the complaint, adding that authorities had multiple interactions with Breunig in the days leading up to the incident. “He was visibly impaired, was visibly in need of medical attention, could not take care of himself, and was a danger to his own safety and to the safety of others.”
Law enforcement personnel arrested Breunig, who was shoeless, clad only in a hospital gown, and without money, a cellphone or crutches when he was put into a patrol vehicle and driven away, according to the suit.
However, instead of being transported to a facility for booking or to another medical facility for treatment, law enforcement personnel allegedly dropped Breunig off at a railroad crossing near the intersection of Alessandro Road and San Timoteo Canyon Road, where he wandered into the path of a train and was killed.
Baker, the Redlands spokesman, told the Record Gazette in Banning that Breunig was dropped off in the area prior to the accident by a Sheriff’s Department vehicle that left the location before he was killed.
The complaint alleges Loma Linda University Medical Center staff failed to provide Breunig with an appropriate emergency screening examination while law enforcement personnel were not adequately trained in detention, arrest and custody procedures.
Additionally, the defendants have refused to comply with Moller’s public records requests for various items, including police bodycam video as well as arrest and medical records, making it impossible to determine if others might be involved, according to the suit.