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Deaf Woman Sues NYPD For Denying Interpreter

VIDEO [CC] - Deaf woman sues NYPD for denying sign language interpreter for nearly 24 hours after she was arrested, locked up.


NEW YORK CITY -- A Deaf woman who is also speech-impaired has sued the New York City Police Department for denying her a sign language interpreter for nearly 24 hours after she was arrested and locked up overnight, according to papers filed in Manhattan Federal Court.

Opal Gordon was arrested Sept. 21 as she left Manhattan Family Court for allegedly violating an order of protection. She was at court for a custody case about her daughter.

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Gordon, of Manhattan, who is “profoundly Deaf and speech-impaired,” said cops didn’t tell her why she had been arrested nor did they provide her with an interpreter. They also didn’t read her Miranda rights, she said.

Police brought Gordon, 53, to the 45th Precinct stationhouse in the Bronx and held her there for two hours, she said. “The boss who runs the precinct signed to me and asked if I am Deaf. I said ‘Yes,’” she told the Daily News. But none of the officers called for a sign language interpreter or gave her anything that would help her communicate with them, she said.

“Not even a piece of paper,” Gordon added.

The officers brought her to a holding cell in Bronx Central Booking and she was held overnight, according to her lawsuit. Gordon claims she repeatedly tried to communicate her need for a sign language interpreter but was ignored.

“No one would listen to me,” she said.

It took the NYPD 21 hours to get a sign language interpreter to help Gordon, her lawsuit said.

The city’s Administration for Children’s Services visited Gordon’s home in October as part of its Manhattan Family Court case. Even though ACS knew Gordon was Deaf, the agency didn’t bring an interpreter upsetting Gordon because the visit, part of a court-ordered investigation, could affect her custody case.

“This is nothing new for the city,” said Gordon’s lawyers Eric Baum and Andrew Rozynski, who represent many Deaf clients.

Deaf Woman Sues NYPD For Wrongly Arrested

Their law firm said the NYPD has a 2009 consent decree with the Justice Department to improve its treatment of the Deaf community. But the city and the NYPD continue to violate the civil rights of Deaf people, according to the lawyers.

The city Law Department didn’t comment on the pending litigation. “We will review the suit and respond accordingly once we are served,” a spokesman said. Source

Related: @Lawsuit
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