In Tacoma, a few months ago, a woman called 911 seeking protection when a fight with a guest turned violent. Unfortunately, when you call 911 they send the cops, and government police are not interested in protecting you; they are interested in controlling the situation. The victim in this case is a black woman who has been deaf since birth. The cops were told ahead of time that she was deaf, but what with a situation to control, when they showed up at the apartment they tortured her with a taser, handcuffed her, and hauled her off to jail for
running at the police in an assaultive manner. She was running outside to meet the police, so that they could protect her from the person that was beating her up. Instead, a white police officer, Ryan Koskovich, screamed at her, whipped out his taser to drive her to the ground with a painful electrical shock, and then handcuffed her and arrested her, all because she didn’t stop running immediately when they bellowed commands at her that she could not hear. The police claimed, in reports that they wrote up after the fact, that they had also held a hand out. Other people in the neighborhood were watching and nobody else says they saw the cops hold a hand up. Of course, it’s possible that nobody saw it because it was 11:30 at night and dark; but then, that might be a reason for the police to think that someone might not necessarily be able to see their hands, and might not necessarily be able to hear their bellowed commands, and perhaps they ought to adopt a different strategy from maximal confrontation and
Taser first, ask questions later. But that of course is only the sort of thing that you do if you give a damn about not torturing and imprisoning innocent people.
Officer Ryan Koskovich, Tacoma, Washington
Tasered, handcuffed and imprisoned deaf assault victim Lashonn White
Photo from NY Daily News
Police use Taser on deaf crime victim
TACOMA, Wash. — KIRO TV's investigative unit has discovered Tacoma police used force to arrest and handcuff an innocent deaf woman after she called 911 for their help.
Instead of an apology, she ended up bloody and in jail for nearly three days without an interpreter before a prosecutor declined to press charges.
After months of digging, investigative reporter Chris Halsne found significant discrepancies in the official police version of events leading up to Lashonn White's arrest.
Late in the evening on April 6, White said she called for police assistance after a guest reportedly attacked her in her own apartment.
. . . Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) logs show Tacoma police officer Ryan Koskovich and his partner, Michael Young, were outside White's apartment complex in about six minutes.
It also reflects that officers received texts along the way stating,Person doing the hitting is a SophiaandVict. is Lashonn White.
In addition, it appears from internal police records obtained by KIRO Team 7 Investigators, Koskovich and his partner were repeatedly given information that the victim could not hear a thing.
. . . To her, what happened next defies common sense — especially, for a woman with no criminal record, no arrests and just one minor driving violation on her record.
Within seconds of running outside to meet police, Officer Koskovich pulled his Taser and fired a two-barbed electric wire into White's ribs and stomach.
All I'm doing is waving my hands in the air, and the next thing I know, I'm on the ground and then handcuffed. It was almost like I blacked out. I was so dizzy and disoriented,White said.
Witnesses said White began bleeding heavily from her knuckles and the right side of her face swelled up immediately after she hit the pavement following the Taser jolt.
Pictures acquired by Team 7 Investigators also show injuries to her cheek, chin, ribs, neck and arms.
Worse yet to White was the incredible confusion that came with suddenly being handcuffed, under arrest and without the ability to communicate with Tacoma officers, who had no sign language skills.
The next thing I know, they took me to jail. Told me to stand up, you're going to jail. I said,said White.What? What have I done?I couldn't figure it out. I had no idea what was going on,
. . . Margaret Sims's apartment is right over the spot where White fell to the ground after being tased. She said it was around 11:30 at night and dark, but she heard Lashonn screaming in pain and ran to the balcony.
I hollered down and said,She's deaf and can't speak!
Sims says she went down to the street and spoke with officers while Lashonn was still in handcuffs. She told us during an on-camera interview that the police officers at the scene admitted there was a misunderstanding.
They had tased her because he thought she was coming at him, but what she was doing was running to him. But he said,replied Sims.stopand he didn't put his hand up. He just said,stopand she couldn't understand that,
Another apartment tenant, Geraldine Warren, said she also heard the commotion and talked to police.
They just told her to halt. She kept running, she can't hear—she's deaf. I said,asked Warren holding up her right hand.Aren't you supposed to say halt like that?
Tacoma police arrested Lashonn on two criminal charges, simple assault and obstruction of a public servant (law enforcement officer). Then they carted her off to jail. She spent 60 hours there – also without an interpreter- before a city prosecutor reviewed her case and asked that charges not be filed at all. . . . White said despite her repeated requests to police for a certified ASL interpreter, one was never provided.
The Incident Is Being Investigated. But Police Officer Naveed Benjamin has already said that the actions of the officers
do not appear to be outside of policy. Probably not. And what does that tell you about the policy?
This is of course not the first time this sort of thing has happened. See for example GT 2007-12-07: Law and Orders #4: Wichita cops take control by shocking a deaf man for not following orders he couldn’t hear, GT 2007-11-11: Taser first, ask questions later, AP 2005-03-22: Autistic Teenager is Beaten by Deputies After Being Mistaken for a Prowler, GT 2008-02-05: Rapists in uniform, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam.
- [In other words, a crime victim was imprisoned for nearly three days, because police could not speak her language and chose to respond to her with escalating brutality before they knew what was going on. –CJ.]↩