Cop Arrested Innocent Deaf Woman, Wouldn’t Provide Translator Because “Arrest Isn’t a Service”



Since an arrest is not a “service, program, or activity”, even if an accused person is deaf they should not be provided a sign language translator, according to a statement made by New York City prosecutors.

This is the argument that District Judge Valerie Caproni rubbished in the court case of a hearing-impaired woman, who was wrongfully arrested, never provided an interpretor and detained for 24 hours before being released without charges.

Now, New York City is paying for its officers’ tactless approach in dealing with a civilian with a genuine disability.

The victim 58-year-old Diana Williams will be compensated with $750,000 – the largest ever deaf discrimination settlement for a single person.

In response to the settlement the New York City Law Department made no other comment apart from, “settling this case was in the city’s best interest”.

How did it all start?

Four years ago on September 11, 2011 Williams and her husband went to visit one of their properties in Staten Island. They were there trying to negotiate with tenants who had not paid rent, the occupants were possibly facing eviction. One man at the premises threatened the couple, gesturing that he had a gun.

Williams’ husband Chris called 911 using a video relay service to call the police asking for help.
The fact that the call was made using special assistance should have indicated to the authorities that a sign language translator would be needed. However, when the cops arrived there was no interpretor and the men in uniform did not know sign language either.

Records show that the details from the 911 call clearly stated that a deaf family needed assistance.
Now, the couple was caught in a situation where the cops could understand the tenants’ version, but had no way of making sense of what the deaf couple was trying to communicate.

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  • police state

    This is a good outcome for this lady, Unfortunately the Judge does not ger it though. Her statement that she hoped the settlement would teach the police a lesson. She needs to be educated as to whom actually pays the bill.

  • michael92064

    Pen and paper was evidently beyond the technological grasp of the officers

  • petewrigley

    And of course no word on if the officers have been fired or not. We know the answer though.

  • deafie

    The article states “Perhaps, $750,000 will be enough to teach officers to exercise sympathy for disabled civilians when dealing with them.”
    No we do not want police or others to exercise sympathy. We want them to recognize legal and human rights and respect them.