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”
On January 27 2012 I had the misfortune of being pulled over by the Tacoma Police Department.
I don’t generally go out to often as I am hearing impaired, suffer from depression due to my hearing loss and I just can’t communicate well in a social setting.
On that night I drank a couple of beers meaning two and half and then wanted to leave and go home as I just wasn’t enjoying myself and couldn’t hear anything people where asking me, just people being nice and trying to strike up conversation. I just get tired of asking people to repeat themselves and still can’t understand even though I have learned to read lips to a certain extent.
On the way home I was stopped.
The officer claims he smelled alcohol and then asked to do some tests.
I consented to testing for DUI and told the officer I was having an extremely hard time hearing him and that I was extremely hard of hearing.
My hearing was further impaired due to the traffic, his looking away while addressing me, and just not caring to speak any louder than he cared to.
The officers, as now there is about six of them now, wow, did one thing right they wrote a number of times on their reports that I kept saying I couldn’t hear them and that I claimed I was hard of hearing. But I seemed to hear just fine as long as they spoke loud enough, funny.
His test was to run a flash light across my eyes and then handcuffed me and off to jail where I stayed for only twelve hours, unlike LaShonn’s three days.
The officers report stated that it was obvious I was extremely impaired, and oh so right he was however not like he suspected as I am 100% impaired daily, because while attempting to give me directions for the HGN test I could not follow his simple directions, such as to look at the light and don’t move my head.
Well, when I hear someone speak, I always have to look directly at the person and try to read lips in order to understand what I’m being told.
I am always particularly scared when around police to begin with and especially here in Tacoma WA. as they have a history of excessive abuses of their police powers.
I am 100% disabled and another of the officer’s observances was how bad I was staggering, well if you had the spinal condition I do and the damage done to my legs, you just might walk a bit funny also.
The so called field sobriety forms that police use to gather evidence were blank. The interview sheet an officer would use that would have informed him of my disabilities was completely blank.
When I got to jail, I was given a pin number to use with a phone to call someone, but at 56 years old, my eyes aren’t so good either and I didn’t have my reading glasses so an inmate helped me dial out and when my friend got on the phone I could hear absolutely nothing.
Fortunately for me, I had another disabled friend in the car at the time, so people where coming to my rescue, but I didn’t know as none of my friends are wealthy as Social Security or some of the other financial means my friends have leaves a bail situation a expensive prospect, but they massed together and got me out twelve hours later.
So today is November 27th and I have been fighting this case since I was arrested.
Thanks to Ms. LaShonn Whites story I was given the RCW about the ASL requirement and another situation with these police was while at the police station and under arrest for DUI there is another form called the informed consent which is generally read to you and you are then asked if you understand and then generally you are to sign this form.
I don’t recall this form and when I was given a copy, it stated if I understood what the form said, and the officer wrote “yep” and then signed my name as “handcuffed”, wow.
Now thanks to LaShonn’s unfortunate circumstance I know what I also need to do.
My fear is what will Tacoma’s tri-fecta be?
Someone who is impaired shot to death?
That would be a more probable than not case scenario.
I see LaShonn’s case is now filed in District Court and according to an attorney comment the suit is 4.5 million. I hope she gets every penny as you really have to experience this as a disable person to really get the feel for just how bad this is.
Sincerely angry disabled person,
My name is Matt Johnson. Racine, Wisconsin (Caledonia). I have never eaten an oyster.
Just keep posting as you are now. We’ll know the difference. I’m sorry for your unfortunate accidental association. However, it is our policy that posters may post anonymously and their pseudonym is protected from being hijacked by other posters. We’ve never had a situation where two people posting have the same real name and one finds the other’s posting objectionable. I’ll float this past JT and the other GB’s but I suspect the only answer will be asking you to keep using the “New Orleans” identifier to differentiate you two. As revolting as some of the other Ralph’s comments are (and personally I agree, he says some vile things), unless he breaks one of the few rules here that can result in banning, his free speech rights are just as valid as yours as a matter of equity.
I would, however, encourage you to speak up whenever you can and wish to do so against the other Ralph’s bad ideas. Your voice is as welcome as anyone’s. Perhaps more so as you are trying to protect your good name. So do keep coming back, RalphAdamoNew Orleans.
Say hello to everyone at Pascal’s if you get the chance! I sure do miss their Oysters Bienville.
I appreciate SlingT’s sense of humor and decorum. However, as the alternate ‘Ralph Adamo’ (who,I am certain,does NOT live in New Orleans) is capable of posting extremeand hateful things, I am troubled by any association through a name that we unaccountably share.
Ralph and Ralph
Just one of you saying that he is not the other, has the same effect of the other one asserting the same.
The second one responding to say that he is not the first one adds nothing to the knowledge of the situation.
It seems that there are perhaps 6 Ralph Adamos in the USA – of 4072 Adamos
It is not impossible that they all live in New Orleans, but you could run some checks. You could start an association.
I never assume that a name posting is the same person as a name posting even in the same forum.
The writing style and position on a range of issues would need to be spot on before making that connection.
In an effort to avoid ambiguity, you could change your name to Spartacus Adamo.
This effort might not have the desired outcome.
That site above indicates that there could be one of those already.
We could end up with people posting “I’m Spartacus”
I wish all of you well, Ralph Adamos, wherever you say you are.
I request that the managerof this blog ask the Ralph Adamo who posts here endlessly to identify himself by place or some other distinguishing feature, so that it is clear he is not me, the Ralph Adamo who lives in New Orleans.
The police think they can do whatever they want. They can’t come into your house without a warrant. If you go outside, you’re fair game.
I had a Racine County Sheriff’s deputy tell me he was going to come into my house to do a welfare check, and I said no you’re not. He just checked my drivers license.
Welfare check done.
I did ‘sort-of obliquely’ refer above to the time it took
She didn’t fit into the system.
She was out of the ordinary.
Someone running with a fist *must* be a danger.
If they ‘seem funny’ and make noises, they *must* be drug-crazed.
Dealing with her properly – as opposed to tick-the-boxly – then or afterwards would take thought, effort and a modicum of intelligence
She was SEP – Somebody Else’s Problem
She was DYBAPIO – Do Your Bit And Pass It On.
TG Browning, you’re right.
Things like this happen when things even worse than this are being hidden behind things like this. “Facts” are being created to hide facts.
TGB, you’re correct. Possibly the cops didn’t how to communicate with her. Given the fact that they didn’t know how to sign “stop”, I wonder about their ability to read and write (but not hers). Maybe they believe that old derogatory of deaf and dumb. “we all know” if you’re one you must be the other. (any “we all know” statement is false). If this all happened as presented, I hope she sues. It might help raise awareness that these cops need some training.
Why in Bloody hell has no one here (as far as I can see) been concerned with the 60 hours imprisonment and no lawyer. Cripes, I’m deaf myself. But I can read and write and I’ll lay long odds that White could read and write at least SOME English. Why is no one questioning this? It strikes me as 1: completely outside of what should be normal procedures and 2: reeking of cover-up.
I’m deaf. This scares the crap out of me.
I’m speechless, totally speechless…..
Her kids were 1 and 4. She was in the back of the cop car, handcuffed, for two hours and then was strip searched twice.
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