This case involves a 35-year-old deaf and mute woman who was falsely accused of a theft after leaving a mall. As the woman was driving home via the highway, several highway patrol troopers stopped her, pulled her out of the vehicle with excessive force, and beat her. The use of force was briefly captured on the police car camera, but the officers eventually took the woman out of the camera’s view and allegedly continued to beat her. The woman was then taken to the emergency room and was never provided an interpreter. In spite of the extent of her injuries, she was sent to jail. She was never provided an interpreter while in jail. It was several days before it was discovered that the woman had been falsely accused. It was alleged that this use of force violated constitutional law and the American’s with Disabilities Act.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Can you opine on the proper steps and protocols when dealing with a suspect that has a disability?
- 2. Please explain your experience reviewing excessive force cases, involving individuals with disabilities if applicable.
Expert Witness Response E-091078
I currently teach police academy and veteran officers the practical, constitutional, and legal application of force. I also teach human performance science in regards to critical incidents and use of force to officers along the west coast. I am unaware of the existence of any specific protocols for dealing with an individual who is both deaf and mute. However, common sense should dictate the officer’s behavior should comply with the constitutional and departmental policy standards. Some questions to consider – Did the plaintiff know she was being stopped by the police? Did the plaintiff recognize the nature of their requests even when not hearing them? Did the officers fail to recognize reasonable cues that the subject was deaf? Did the officers respond reasonably? What were the objective facts known to the officers at the time? Did the woman physically indicate compliance? Did officers adequately relay their intentions via non-verbal cues? The preferred response post-use of force is to take pictures, annotate injuries, and for a supervisor to conduct a follow-up investigation, which would include an interview with the plaintiff. An attempt to communicate via writing would have been reasonable and preferred. If the plaintiff experienced a severe injury, she should not have been cleared for incarceration.