Lashonn White is a deaf woman in Tacoma, Washington who recently used a special typing machine to call police to tell them that she was being attacked. Within six minutes police were in front of her door. White was then told to come outside by police and then tasered and thrown to the ground. She was jailed for three days because the police could not find an interpreter. I am not sure why the police did not have a simple special video-equipped phone (like the one in White’s home) or why the basic facts could not be established through writing.
The encounter occurred on April 6th after White used a machine with a certified American Sign Language interpreter on the other end who conveyed information to the dispatcher. White conveyed the following information: “Please hurry! There’s a person here beating me up. . . . Right now! This is serious! . . .She’s fighting at me, then she chokes me. She’s coming right at me!”
Tacoma police officer Ryan Koskovich and his partner, Michael Young, responded and were told that the victim was Lashonn White and that she was deaf.
White repeatedly warned the dispatcher “I’m deaf. I can’t hear if they’re out front knocking or whatever . . . ”
The investigative reporter below found that Koshovich tased her “within seconds” of her running out of front door. She said she had her hands in the air when she was hit and handcuffed.
We have previously seen police taser deaf individuals for failing to respond to commands.
The two officers filed virtually identical accounts. Koshovich insisted that White would not respond even to his yelling to stop and “ignored my commands.” He also said “White was making a loud grunting noise, had a piercing stare in her eyes and had a clenched right fist in the air.” A piercing stare? I fail to see how — even ignoring that you were told that she is deaf — not responding to commands and having a fist in the air is sufficient cause to taser a woman . . . even one with a piercing stare. There are two fully grown men at the scene to handle this one woman.
The officers proceeded to charge White with simple assault and obstruction of a public servant (law enforcement officer). It took three days before prosecutors elected to drop the charges.
This is obviously a matter that needs to be closely investigated. It is not just the escalation of the encounter with the use of the taser, but the failure to deal appropriately with a deaf individual, the failure to have sufficient interpreters or machines at the jail (in a major metropolitan area), and the filing of charges found to be without sufficient basis.
While we have not heard the officers’ response to these allegations, the fact that she was not prosecuted for assault is telling. Those are charges that are rarely dropped if the individual also actively obstructed police. If there was no assault, the charge magnifies the alleged abusive response by the officers.
56 thoughts on “Deaf Woman Calls Police Who Tell Her To Come Outside And Then Taser Her and Jail Her For Not Responding To Commands”
Ralph Adamo is correct but the problem becomes stickier as those up the ladder come into focus.
This woman sat in jail for almost 3 days, 60 hours from booking to release. How many shifts and supervisors oversaw her confinement? Just how wide and deep is the moronic strain within the TPD?
Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Sure we’ve heard this a million times, but the truth never goes out of style, and some people need to be reminded of that message–though I’m probably speaking to the choir here. Absolute power can also lead to some very stupid decisions. The local taxpayers will end up paying for this rampant abuse of police power, and the officers involved will be put on PAID leave, while an “investigation” is conducted that will effectively sweep this crime under the rug. After a nice, lengthy PAID vacation, the police officers will return to work, ready to commit their next abuses. After all, when you reward officers for their failures and abuses, and you withhold any serrious punishment, you will only reinforce the conduct, behavior, and mindset. It’s Psychology 101.
60 hours in jail, unable to communicate, for being deaf! Expensive cops and DA.
The deaf encounters the dumb. The dumb will now encounter a jury.
If a deaf black woman screams in the woods, who’s going to hear her? Thank goodness that this was Washington State and not Mississippi again. This woman would have never been heard again.
Two plainclothes police (plaid shirts) were processing some immigrants (presumption) using a public toilet on a public street.
I asked one to show me his badge. He complained, but did so. Glad that was here in Sweden and not there.
Ten years ago these two cops would have gotten away with this easily. What’s an older, deaf, black woman going to do to them?
Times have changed. KIRO 7 Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne dug out the facts and then the story went viral. Even though the whole world may know, what’s pertinent to these two cops is that everyone in their community knows who they are and what they did.
Morons up the chain failed to get in front of the charge and the woman sat in jail. As a result many players are now involved and the department has exposed the city to a tremendous law suit.
Citizens of Tacoma are right to question not only the intelligence of the officers but also, as one wrote on KIRO 7’s blog: (Why) Are we still hiring and training stupid government employees who cannot figure out how to mitigate political and financial costs for the people?
A trained police officer does not know the command for stop in sign language? He and his partner were both informed she was deaf, and in a stressful threatening situation. My reading interprets her arms and hands were exposed, she was holding no weapons.
Big Blue Daddy shoots…. and HE SCORES !!
Police officers responding to crime scenes have every right to get the scene under control. They are the authority and immediate justice (and judges) while life and health are threatened.
My goodness were these two officers trained by the ad on the back of a superhero comic book.?
They wrote ‘in concert”. They in effect gave their own damning testimony by doing so If they thght they were in the right they would have been happy to let each write up their own report. Shame on these cowardly cops (The word pigs comes to mind – but I use that to define many folks who act like idiots and worse.)
Just a few simple sign language gestures could cover about any command. They could be learned in less than an hour.
Neighbors who witnessed the incident dispute this account, pointing out that they told police that White was deaf and denying that Koskovich held up his hand as a signal for White to stop running.
One neighbor, Margaret Sims, told KIRO that “They had tased her because he thought she was coming at him, but what she was doing was running to him. But he said, ‘stop’ and he didn’t put his hand up. He just said, ‘stop’ and she couldn’t understand that.”
KIRO police conduct consultant and former Bellevue police chief Don Van Blaricom reviewed the official police report as well as witness and police accounts and concluded that the officer’s reports “were obviously written in concert, after the fact, to CYA.” Why, he asked, would White “run at police in an assaultive manner when she had asked for them to be there and was going out to meet them?”
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/deaf-woman-tasered-jaile-by-police.html#ixzz22s9GdOio
Washington state is trying to create a trifecta. Shoot and kill native american crossing the street with no consequences, Shoot and kill newfoundland dog hiding in the bushes in a double fenced yard with no consequences and lets see….what would the perfect third here…so many to choose….
As an individual who wears hearing aids, this scares the BLEEP out of me.
If I were not wearing my aids all I would hear would be someone yelling very firmly at me, and I certainly would not necessarily know its a cop.
This is a prime example of the shoot first, ask questions later. I think these officers and their superior officers should be retrained in understanding what to do when they are told in advance that a deaf woman is involved that their “commands” will not be heard! How stupid can they be? I think the term command concerns me as well, but that is for another day.
Cops are apparently increasingly cowardly; shooting first and asking questions later. After all, they have families to go home to, blah, blah, blah.
It’s just unbelievable what we see these days.
Perhaps this sort of thing is influenced by increasing reliance on technology/procedure and reduced reliance on intelligence / common sense.
No numeric codes for factors like “person is deaf” or “person can not speak” ?
This would mean that something said to a dispatcher might never get to the cops on the ground.
Reliance on the tech ends up with no check box for out-of-the-ordinary.
No check box for something means that there is no procedure that caters for it.
The machine will grind on in ‘not-my-problem’ mode until such time as the insanity becomes embarrassing. (i.e. it starts to get media coverage).
And even then …… somebody has to take on the responsibility for admitting a mess-up – which would be an implicit criticism of the procedures / people – which are not going to change any time soon.
Anonymously Yours 1, August 7, 2012 at 8:50 am
… Maybe in this case the woman was of color…..
Yes indeed, and the officer who did the taser attack was http://media.cmgdigital.com/shared/img/photos/2012/08/03/6a/39/Koskovich1.jpg
I’ll state that now days domestic altercations are the most dangerous for law enforcement to get involved with….. The question is why….when they used to not take domestics seriously…… Must be something in the training or….. Maybe in this case the woman was of color…..
It is a simple case of assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, kidnapping, false arrest, false imprisonment, and a federal violation in civil court for all of those offenses for civil damages against all the cops, the Leos, the Superior Officers, and the municipality of Tacoma. Punitive damages against all but the municipal defendant. Attorneys fees on top of that. Any lawyers out there in Tacoma know anything about the statute called 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, Section 1985(conspiracy to deprive one of the civil rights) and Section 1988 (attys fees)? Or, are all the lawyers out there trained in things like bankruptcy and divorce law? Is this Ramadan season in Tacoma? See the article above about drinking during Ramadan in some Arab country. Here we arrest them for being deaf and dumb. Gosh, I hope the word dumb does not get censored by Word Press here. If it does then I will use the word : umbDay. Just a female dog here complaining. Gotta itch about sumpin.
Evolution from left to right sometimes accelerates and sometimes slows down a bit.
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