Innocent deaf woman spends 60 hours in jail without interpreter

A federal disability rights group has launched a probe into how Tacoma police and the Pierce County Jail treated a deaf crime victim.


That action comes as a direct result of a KIRO Team 7 Investigation.


In a report on August 5, Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne exposed how Tacoma police tased Lashonn White on April 6 just minutes after she called 911 for their help. Police reports say White failed to heed a call to “stop” – something White says there was no way for her to hear. She’s been deaf since birth. Officers arrested White on charges of assault and obstruction anyway.


“I mean imagine—all I did was come running, wave my hands and come running out, and the next thing I know I’m on the ground,” White explained to Halsne through a certified American Sign Language interpreter.

A prosecutor declined to file any charges against White, but didn’t review the case for nearly three days. White sat in jail about 60 hours over the Easter holiday weekend before being released.


Halsne discovered that when someone who doesn’t speak English is booked into the Pierce County Jail, staff calls interpreters on the phone so they can explain basic information to the new inmate like charges, medical needs and the time of their initial court date.


Deaf inmates don’t get that same courtesy because the jail does not have a video phone which allows for sign language communications.


“They didn’t read my charges to me or anything,” White said. “I’m still wondering exactly what happened. I think it didn’t make any sense. Why do we have an Americans with Disabilities Act?”

Continue Reading @ KIRO TV



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