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Deaf Woman Sues NYPD For Wrongly Arrested

Deaf News: Deaf woman denied interpreter by cops who arrested her after car accident sues city and NYPD.

NEW YORK CITY -- A Deaf woman was mocked and wrongly arrested by New York City Police Department cops after a minor car accident - all because they refused to get an interpreter to hear her side of the story, a new Manhattan federal lawsuit alleges.

Tanya Ingram's alleged ordeal began around 3:15 p.m. on Feb. 26, 2013, when she and another car collided at the intersection of Second Ave. and E. 120th Street.

The other driver got out of her car and rushed toward Ingram, apparently angry and shouting, the suit claims.

Ingram felt threatened by the other driver’s behavior so she "picked up a small metal pipe that she had in her car and exited the car, gesturing to (the other driver) to back away with her free hand. At no time did Ms. Ingram swing the pipe, nor did she ever attempt to strike (the other driver)," the suit states.

The cops who arrived on the scene some 45 minutes later spent considerable time speaking with the other driver in the accident, the suit says.

They refused to provide Ingram with the means to communicate, however - though she repeatedly pointed to her ear and shook her head to show her hearing impairment, she says.

One of the responding officers asked Ingram for her keys and opened the trunk. He then made several gestures to indicate a pipe, and she retrieved it from the car.

As the officers mulled about the scene of the accident, an EMT dispatched to the intersection approached Ingram. She explained that she was Deaf through gestures, and he gave her a piece of paper and pen so that she could speak with him. The officer who had opened her trunk was 10 feet away.

"You did not understand me. That's not right. I know she's lying to you. How can I tell you my story? I want my rights. Call interpreter," the note stated.

Ingram, 51, tried to show him the note, and while he glanced at it, the cops "expressed visible annoyance" and ignored her.

She then saw several officers speaking with each other and they "appeared to be mocking her use of gestures."

When the cops moved to arrest her, Ingram had no idea what was happening and became "extremely frightened and utterly bewildered as to the reason for her arrest began crying and repeatedly tried to audibly shout, 'Why?,'" her lawyers maintain.

Ingram was ultimately detained for 24 hours and never received an interpreter as required by law, she alleges.

She had been charged with four misdemeanors menacing, criminal possession of a weapon, harassment, and resisting arrest but all charges were dropped in July 2013, the suit contends.

Ingram is seeking unspecified damages.

Asked about the lawsuit, a city Law Department spokesman said that: "The complaint will be reviewed."

Ingram’s lawsuit is one of several recent false arrest claims in which Deaf individuals allege they were denied an interpreter.

Also Thursday, Susan Herman, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Collaborative Policing, said the department is hosting an outreach event for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing this March at the former police academy building on E. 20th Street.

At the event, they hope to distribute visor plaques for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing so they can better communicate with police officers, she said.

These plaques would say that the driver is Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing and the driver's preferred method of communication, as well as various symbols and words, to explain things such as why an officer has stopped the driver.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing drivers will also be able to indicate whether they're having a medical emergency, Herman says.

The NYPD will soon launch a pilot program in three precincts to increase access to in-person and tablet-based American Sign Language translation. The department also worked with the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing community to create a roll call training video, she told The News. SOURCE

Related:
Deaf Woman Sues NYPD For Wrongly Arrested & Assault
Deaf Woman Sues NYPD For Denying Interpreter
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