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. 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?

  2. I bet that a jury in that county would acquit a man if he shot a cop right after the cop shot his dog.

  3. mespo727272

    Bullies can wear uniforms too as Chuck has shown …
    Bullies prefer uniforms.


  4. samantha there is a app stop and frisk watch i have it on my phone as ive been stopped coming home from chemo

  5. 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

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Wow. Such a sad story. I don’t understand to beat him unconscious after Tazing him 3 times! These officers need some jail time.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Something is badly wrong with this picture….. A 1983 action should be successful….

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