August 25, 2016

When a deaf person has an encounter with the police.

On Facebook, my son John links to "Deaf man fatally shot by North Carolina cop was ‘afraid’ of police, devastated brother says."

That made me wonder about how deaf people think ahead about what they will do if they have to interact with the police, something I discuss in the comments at John's post. And I found this useful Marlee Matlin video that I want to post here.


Jack Richardson said...

There is more to this story than the Daily News reports. For another narrative read this:

The “Deaf Man Executed By Cop” Narrative Is a Lie. Here’s the Proof.

Birches said...

How horrible! I admit to being a little relieved that the poor man was white so that race doesn't have to factor into the police's actions.

I know a couple of deaf people and they both drive, but they also use their voices on occasion. I guess I always figured once an officer heard them attempt to speak, it would be obvious they were deaf.

Big Mike said...

@Jack Richardson, I was about to link to the same article. The situation was dangerous, and the deceased is the individual who made it so. People who run from police have killed themselves, they've killed innocent bystanders, and they've killed cops. Don't run from the police.

Lyssa said...

We have a number of universal hand gestures in our culture (hand up for "stop," the "OK" sign, hands to neck for choking), as well as universal visual symbols (like a white cane to indicate that a person is blind). I wonder why we've never developed one for deafness. I would think that simply pointing to your ear and shaking your head would do it, but we'd need something agreed upon and known in case of high-anxiety situations like police encounters.

Jack Richardson, that link is very interesting. I hope that there's more evidence that can be explored and that a solid investigation can take place.

Fernandinande said...

According to modern reporting standards that headline should be
"Black cop kills unarmed disabled white man".

But that sounds wrong.

"White cop kills unarmed disabled black baby for fun", then correct some minor details after the riots.

rhhardin said...

What happens when the police stop somebody with no sense of smell, is the question.

Designs for the wallet card to be offered are solicited.

Ann Althouse said...

You have the right to remain silent, so I would think the police would be prepared for non-response. I'd default toward doing nothing. But the problem is not knowing if you are being told to do something.

readering said...

Was he armed? Did he lunge for the cop? Those seem the key facts. Deafness seems kind of a distraction. Cops shouldn't shoot non-threatening unarmed guys just because they aren't following instructions.

William said...

I read the article linked to by Jack Richardson above. There's more to come in this case. What's so wrong about giving the cop the benefit of the doubt until the facts are known........Or take the worst case scenario: the cop panicked and mistook the gestures of a deaf man as threats and shot him. Something like that could happen I guess. But even then, I would feel some sympathy for the cop. Under conditions of mortal danger, people screw up. Good or bad decision, the cop will have to replay those moments for the rest of his life. Good or bad decision, I bet the cop will feel more guilt about it than those who are summarily calling him a domestic terrorist.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

This tragedy could have been prevented with a Hoover cane.

Curious George said...

This is interesting. The person leading protests in AZ over a cop shooting is given deadly force training.

rhhardin said...

Somebody showed up to investigate whether probably Washoe the signing chimp was actually talking, and noticed that he was being signed to slowly by a chimp so that he could understand.

MisterBuddwing said...

Was he armed? Did he lunge for the cop? Those seem the key facts.

The standard justification seems to be, "He appeared to be reaching for his waistband."

This tragedy could have been prevented with a Hoover cane.

So the cop would think the driver was blind??? And besides, couldn't such a cane be construed as a weapon of some kind?

readering said...

Latest development in yet another excessive force case involved death of unarmed man from police bullet

The Godfather said...

I'd never thought about deaf people as drivers before. I was kind of surprised to learn that deaf people can get driver's licenses. Hearing is an important part of driving for those of us who are not deaf -- another driver blowing a horn as a warning, the screech of brakes, an ambulance's siren, etc. -- so the deaf driver must know at the outset that he/she faces particular challenges and must compensate accordingly. One of those challanges would be how to behave when pulled over by a cop. I assume that this is an experience that a deaf driver would be taught to deal with, and would be prepared for. I also assume that police officers ought to be trained in how to deal with deaf drivers. We don't have anywhere near enough facts to make any judgment about this event, and who -- if anyone -- was a fault.

k said...

In addition to teaching deaf people how to communicate with police, we can make sure our law enforcement and first responders are familiar with all kinds of people with disabilities. Here's an example of the training that's available:

This training (I saw a preview of it) includes things like a video of a woman who has Tourette's syndrome explaining how it affects her and how others with the syndrome might appear to a responding law enforcement official.

Robert Cook said...

"Cops shouldn't shoot non-threatening unarmed guys just because they aren't following instructions."

That's becoming their default tactic.

Smilin' Jack said...

That made me wonder about how deaf people think ahead about what they will do if they have to interact with the police...

They figure that if they point to their ears and try to speak, the cop will understand and make allowances.

Hahaha--just kidding, deaf people aren't stupid. They buy more life insurance.

Chad Brooks said...

I was in a police academy almost 40 yrs ago (1977)taught by the Pennsylvania State Police. When we did the exercise in vehicle stops one of the instructors simulated being deaf. There was subsequently classroom discussion on what we did right and wrong and how to correctly handle these unusual incidents. I thought it was a ridiculous exercise (despite knowing deaf drivers). I wasn't on the street three weeks when one of my early car stops was...a deaf driver. I was grateful for the instruction I had rec'd. Certainly all these years later with increased scrutiny on the rights of the disabled police must have instruction in this year. But maybe I was just lucky in the instruction I rec'd.

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks for that, Chad.

Michael Edward McNeil said...

Police fire in America is not concentrated on a particular minority. The distinguishing pattern in America isn't (say) white cop vs. black male, but simply (sadly, all too often) cops vs. people.

Conservative, multinational (but originally Canadian) writer and columnist Mark Steyn remarked on this unfortunate “pattern” in American policing back in the spring of 2014 — well before the events of Ferguson, MO unfolded later that year.

See, e.g., these two postings by Mark Steyn:

1: “Gun Control”; and
2: “The Warning Shot Heard Round the World. (But Not Here.)

In the last, Steyn replies to law-enforcement and other criticisms of his earlier piece. Here's an excerpt. Quoting:

I'll stick just to your German example. You say, “Go tell the Polizei to f*** off and see what it gets you.” In none of the examples I've cited has anyone told you or your colleagues to “f*** off”. In the Supreme Court case, a law-abiding citizen was lawfully parking his lawfully-acquired and lawfully-registered vehicle outside his parents' lawful home when the police showed up and shot him.

How often do the Polizei do that?

Well, in 2011 the German police fired 85 bullets. That's all of them. The entire police force. The whole country. Eighty-five bullets in one year. That's seven bullets per month. One bullet for every million German citizens. The same year — 2011 — the Miami Police Department blew through the German Polizei's annual bullet allowance on just one traffic incident:

“Police killed Raymond Herisse, 22, of Boynton Beach in a barrage of gunfire after they said he refused an order to pull over while speeding down a crowded Collins Avenue in his Hyundai…

“Twelve officers – from Miami Beach and Hialeah – unleashed more than 100 rounds at Herisse, police said. The hail of bullets also struck and wounded three bystanders.”

The good news for those three bystanders is that, as John Thomas can assure you, that's “standard procedure”. And he's right. Which was the point of my original post: the “standard procedure” is the problem. It needs to change.


Darrell said...

The correct way to behave in a traffic stop should be part of every State's drivers exam. Both on the written test and the behind-the-wheel portion.

JCC said...

@ Michael McNeil -

Several points:

I can't seem to find anywhere the actual number of police officers killed in the line of duty in Germany, but it seems to be about 5 a year, including those killed in traffic accidents. Compare this to the almost routine of "Cop Killed in.." add the name of a US city or state. So, when your chances - as a cop in Germany - of being assaulted or killed are near zero, that might explain why German cops do not feel a need to respond with deadly force.

Next, some years back, I trained with GSG-9 cops from Germany. They were fascinated by U S police equipment, especially handcuffs. They were confused by our need for manacles and cuffs, and asked why we had them. For those who refuse to come along when arrested, we said. This completely mystified the German cops, because, in Germany, the concept of resisting arrest was totally unknown to them. "We are the police. When we tell someone to come along, they come." So there is a cultural divide about how the general population responds to civil authority. At that time, according to the German cops, the only people likely to resist arrest were recent immigrants, mainly from Turkey. For a German citizen to disobey civil authorities was practically unheard of.

And, of course, compare this to the experience of any U S major urban center cop today. People routinely and regularly resist arrest, and guns in such persons possession is typical.

JCC said...

So, a driver runs from the police in his car, gets in a high speed pursuit, and then when he finally stops (at his own house), he approaches the cop when ordered not to move. He has numerous prior arrests, including at least three for resisting arrest. His family says he was afraid of the cops, which seems right since he has been arrested a number of times and probably ran this time because he didn't want to get arrested again. And how was the cop supposed to know that the man couldn't hear? Whose responsibility is it to avoid a conflict with an arresting officer?

BTW, speeding in a auto to avoid arrest in North Carolina? That's a felony.

Once more, someone got shot because he broke the law (or in ths case, multiple laws including felony statutes), and then failed to follow the cop's orders and resisted arrest.

Until we hear from the officer, we can only speculate about why the cop felt threatened, but the essential facts are just like so many others. Someone breaks the law and resists arrest, but the family wants to somehow call this the fault of the cops.

Maybe if the family cared so much, they would have done something to prevent the brother from being in situations where he broke the law and resisted arrest, instead of trying to justify behavior which put innocent people at hazard.

southcentralpa said...

Okay, I'll say it: I don't know if they consider it "beneath their dignity" or whatnot, but how hard is it(especially in their car) to have a sign that says "I am deaf" with a pen clipped to it that they can hold between two fingers while their hands on the wheel or otherwise in plain sight?

I used to do some chainsaw work with some guys from Gallaudet (hearing protection was a moot point for them!) and we never really got into traffic stops but it seemed like a number of them had some kind of a pocket notebook with them always (with some variation of "I'm deaf. Speaking louder won't help!" on the cover).