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Police tase deaf man for trying to communicate using sign language von TomoNews US   4 years ago


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Jonathan Meister, a hearing-impaired man from Hawthorne, California is suing four officers from the Hawthorne police department after they allegedly tasered him several times when he tried to communicate with them using sign language on February 13, 2013.

The incident happened on 6:30 p.m. when Meister was retrieving boxes he had left at a friend's house, when a neighbor mistook him for a burglar and called police. Police arrived and called out to Meister, but he didn't hear them because he was hearing-impaired.

According to The Raw Story, one of the officers grabbed Meister by his hand. Meister then tried to communicate with the officers with American Sign Language. That was a bad idea, because the officers interpreted his sudden movement as resisting arrest. They started hitting him and kicking his stomach. He struggled while police were trying to handcuff him, so one officer tasered him. He fell to the ground and was tasered three more times, including one final "drive stun" to his abdomen. Police continued to beat him until he was unconscious. They finally flipped him on his stomach and handcuffed him. He was later sent to the hospital and charged with assaulting the officers. The charge was later dropped.

Meister has now filed a lawsuit against the Hawthorne police department through the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness. They are suing the police department for violating his civil rights under Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the lawsuit, the incident happened "in substantial part because the HPD does not provide its officers the training and resources to serve people who are deaf or hard of hearing."


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