Hawthorne, CA Police in the News Again: Taser and Beat Deaf Man Into Unconsciousness

by Charlton Stanley, Weekend Contributor

Hawthorne CA Police DepartmentThe Hawthorne, CA Police Department has a history of assaultive behavior toward the public. The department’s activities have been reported on this blog before. In one incident, Hawthorne officers Tasered an autistic child, then when his parents complained, they returned and arrested him a week later.  Last year, the same Hawthorne Police arrested a man for videotaping them in a public space, then shot his dog when it ran to his side.

About a year ago, Jonathan Meister, a deaf man, was loading his car with some personal belongings, including his snowboarding equipment.  There had been several robberies in the area recently.  A neighbor yelled at him, but Meister, being deaf, did not hear the call-out, so the neighbor called the police.  When the police arrived, the officers watched Meister as he carried some items into his car. When Meister saw the officers, he sat his boxes down and walked toward them, trying to use American Sign Language to let them know he is deaf.

The officers did not respond to his gestures, but grabbed his wrist and spun him around so his back was to them.

Officers Jeffrey Salmon, Jeffrey Tysl, Erica Bristow, and Mark Hultgren allegedly ordered Meister to stop loading the boxes into his car, but Meister could not hear the order. One of the officers then grabbed Meister by the hand, who responded by attempting to use American Sign Language to communicate with the officer.

The officers interpreted his sudden movements as resistance, so they “struck Meister with fists and feet, and forcibly took him to the ground.” Once he was on the ground, one of the officers allegedly shot him twice with a Taser. Another officer then delivered a “drive stun” to Meister’s abdomen.

The officers continued to beat Meister until he was unconscious. They charged him with assaulting an officer, but news reports say the charges were later dropped.

Attorney Paula Pearlman, of the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, filed a lawsuit on Mr. Meister’s behalf. The lawsuit alleges Hawthorne police committed civil rights violations under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and used unnecessary aggression.

“Because he is deaf, Mr. Meister depends on using his hands while facing a person to communicate,” the complaint states. “The officers’ sudden aggression, which both caused pain and interfered with his ability to communicate, caused Mr. Meister reflexively to pull his hands away, hop back over the fence and step toward the gate … to create some space so that he could communicate.”

According to the lawsuit, “this incident occurred in substantial part because the HPD does not provide its officers the training and resources to serve people who are deaf or hard of hearing.” Hawthorne police failed “to provide effective communication to deaf and hard of hearing individuals, including himself, who come into contact and interact with the HPD, thereby discriminating against them.”

The complaint alleges that Hawthorne does not have a policy on dealing with deaf or hearing-impaired crime suspects. The lawsuit includes the complaint that the police should have auxiliary aids and services for the deaf and access to a translator who knows ASL.

Hawthorne Police Department officials said they do not comment on pending litigation.

Something is badly wrong with the training and discipline of this particular police department.


The Daily Breeze

The Raw Story

31 thoughts on “Hawthorne, CA Police in the News Again: Taser and Beat Deaf Man Into Unconsciousness

  1. I agree having training in working with the deaf and blind is important and necessary but having a shred of common sense and decency goes a long way, something apparently ignored by many of the officers here.

    One would think working as much with the public as a whole as police officers do they would have experienced dealing with a deaf person at least once, or seen one on TV at least.

    Signing in ASL does not look at all like making a furtive move.

    I agree that this department’s problems appear to be systemic and endemic.

  2. Darren,
    When I first went out for football, just before our first practice, the coach had a talk in the locker room. He said, “If you mess up, it’s OK, that’s what coaches are for. We can teach you the right way.”

    “If you screw up a second time, it means you are a slow learner, and we are going to have to work harder to fix the problem.”

    “You screw up the same way a third time, you have a bad habit, and you will be gone.”

    This was the third time that this department has made headlines on this blog alone. Those are just the ones we know about.

  3. What’s needed here is a new social media app, which a person can use to sound an alarm whenever s/he is confronted by police. The app’s central computer broadcasts the detainee’s location data to all nearby who have smartphones with this app. When 2, 3 or a dozen people show up to shoot video of the police, surely they will re-think abusing another detainee. In places like Torrance, where public outrage borders on contempt for the police, who knows, maybe a hundred people would show up to start shooting video. It’s the only way to stop these morons, legally. I can already see where the use of such an app could evolve into sounding an alarm every time an officer is spotted, making it virtually impossible for the police to ever issue another citation for traffic violations, for example. Besides putting leashes on police necks, the possibilities are limitless.

  4. It looks like it is time for the Dept. of Justice to start an investigation, and the US attorney needs to start issuing arrest warrants on these cops. THAT WILL get their attention. A few years in prison will solve that dept. problems.

  5. As if we needed yet another example of how much better this would have been handled if the HPD has some simple Sheriff Andy of Mayberry training. Or maybe just any training.

    Slow down, be calm, pay attention, and don’t think that the only solution to every problem is to shoot it or beat the crap out of it.

  6. I dont care anymore. Lets start calling them for what they are. Filthy dirty pigs.

    we the people better seriously do something about filthy dirty pigs soon or its game over.

    police officers who commit acts like this should be sent to prison and have extra time added on for being cops.

    make cops afraid to attack people.

  7. SmilingAtheist, I am afraid that I am beginning to come around to your point of view.

    samantha, I LIKE it! But how long do you think it would take the DoJ to outlaw such apps?

  8. Smiling Atheist, don’t u know? … only those in costumes with badges should enjoy an unfettered monopoly on the initiation of violence.

    Suppose we could rent our own? Hmmmmmm

  9. In the whole of my life, to the extent that I can now remember it, I have never actually found anything for which my life situation inspired me to conduct a search except as I “looked” accurately enough were that for which I searched actually was to be found, and also have never found anything when I looked accurately enough where it was to be found unless I also recognized what had “looked at” accurately enough to become consciously (and thus also sentiently) aware of it.

    Looking relentlessly for something where it is not can, methinks, lead me into the realm of addictive illusory correlations of unrelenting sincerity based on unmitigated observational error(s).

    Of course, to the extent that truth is, and only is, to the beholder of it, what is observably true for me may not ever be observably true to, or for, anyone else.

    If, however, truth is purely subjective, is it not right for someone who is autistic as I am autistic, to object to the false objectivity of purely subjective rules of law that are falsely and mistakenly held by social-construction-of-hypothetical-reality as an exercise of subjective social normative consensus in both the form and the function of a mistaken self-fulfilling-prophecy of objectivity?

    And, if, however, truth is in any extent whatsoever, actually of objective and tangible existential reality, then is it untrue that any and every aspect of subjectivity which contravenes actually tangible existential objectivity is necessarily and sufficiently false?

    What if understanding what is true and what is false is not a matter of interpretation, opinion, consensus or fantasy?

    What if understanding what is true and what is false is, and is only, a matter of accurate observation?

  10. Oops. typagrafikle eroar…

    “except as I “looked” accurately enough were that for which I searched”

    was intended to read

    “except as I “looked” accurately enough where that for which I searched”…

    As is so with other folks, I do make misteaks and mistakes, and learn thereby.

  11. “It’s a Training Issue. It’s a policy issue” – standard police excuses for epic fail. As if you can install human decency, or remove the ‘us vs. them’ war mentality, via training or policy.

  12. Professionals on patrol.

    Officers Jeffrey Salmon, Jeffrey Tysl, Erica Bristow, and Mark Hultgren of the Hawthorne, California, PD are cretinous turd stains on the underpants of humanity.

    How many weeks of fully paid administrative leave will the cretinous turd stains of the Hawthorne PD be gifted before they’re cleared of all malfeasance and returned to duty?

    It’s all about “officer” safety.

  13. I lived, and worked, in and around the Hawthorne CA area from 1965 to almost 1992. Something has changed; this does not sound like the same place now. I know that economic conditions changed Inglewood, the city just north of Hawthorne, can’t help wondering If Inglewood’s problems migrated

  14. on 1, February 17, 2014 at 10:43 amHumpinDog
    I bet that a jury in that county would acquit a man if he shot a cop right after the cop shot his dog.

    i bet he would live long enough to get to trial

  15. Inadvertently become entangled in the sub-realm of law enforcement and you’ll soon learn that police are loyal only to the “brotherhood” which should be considered what it is, illegal perversion of the public trust under the color of authority, that police verbalize infinitely against what they know to be fact, that police are superior and “entitled” and that legislation should be passed that, automatically and immediately and with extreme prejudice, removes police for the slightest violation, even the appearance of a conflict of interest, as determined by a separate and objective entity, of the position of public trust they occupy. Worse than murder is even the lowest degree of fraud and misrepresentation under the color of authority in the name of the law in the name of the people. A balanced man that takes the job to protect the innocent and genuinely help people is honorable. Bullying thugs that extract benefits from society because they are above the law, “entitled” and a member of the “brotherhood” with loyalty only to the gang is reprehensible and undesirable. Those who even appear to cheat and defraud the public trust for their personal, individual purposes or in the name of the “brotherhood” should be prosecuted and ostracized without the possibility of redemption. There exist no laws precluding any act if the public trust is first violated. And yet. police chiefs, supervising commissions and elected officials overlook these violations by and in the name of “entitlement” and the “brotherhood” on a daily basis. Any link or hint of a link to the perception of “entitlement” or the “brotherhood” must be grounds for immediate removal and prosecution. America is corruption and corruption is America.

  16. It seems like the police in America are turning into Nazi like SS members.What ever happened to the concept that the duty of the police is to PROTECT AND SERVE I wonder how many of these recent incidents of police brutality are the result of hiring ex military personnel who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan where all of the population is perceived as the ENEMY These cops have to learn that Americans are not the enemy but are the very citizens these cops are sworn to protect

  17. They obviously are incapable of handling any public service positions. Gang signs are not a reason to attack someone. Lawsuit my arse, throw these idiots behind bars, or at the very least fire them. Suspension is not a viable option. If they can’t act responsible for their own officers behaviour – fire the chief. It’s really not rocket science…..

  18. How many more stores to we have to here about cops beating up on us its time to take back are streets from these (THUGS) And do the right thing the people our (FED UP) And this will soon blow up in there faces when the publiic starts treating them like they treat us.When they Break the law there is no law and then game on we our all tired of excuses lets get there tails strung up and beat them up like they do us then theyll stop they are cowards and there bosses are cowards and (HIDE LIKE COWARDS)Post there names and addresses on the (WEB) SALMON your a COWARD and justice you will get let everyone no where you (LIVE your a PUNK and so are your (SUPERVISERS)You want to know why they hide when they go home or out to lunch they throw on a cover shirt over there uniforms because there (SCARED) Get there home addresses out on the WEB and see them feel like we do the American people are FED UP with excuses.We the people lets take back what is ours.(ARE RIGHTS) We can do it if we stand united we can gat rid of these NAZI BULLSHIT.

  19. One thing that they could immediately change is to no longer taser people once they are on the ground!!! Even if they are “resisting”, there are too many reports of people who are tased while they are on the ground AND in cuffs! Remember, “don’t tase me, bro”? Also, only taser once to see if it “stops” them, there are so many videos where the gd cops keep pulling the trigger over and over.

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