Police Taser and beat deaf man unconscious as he tries to use sign language triggering lawsuit

Police in California needlessly tasered a deaf man to the ground and then beat him into unconsciousness, a new lawsuit claims.

Jonathan Meister alleges officers discharged the electric charge into his body after mistaking his attempts to communicate via sign language as aggressive hand signals.

He claims four cops arrived at his friend’s house in Hawthorne the day before Valentine’s Day in 2013 after receiving reports of a burglary.

Meister “was removing his own property from the backyard of a friend’s home, with the friend’s consent” when he was initially confronted by two cops, according to the lawsuit.

“They ended up grabbing his arms and turning him around, and if you do that to a deaf person, it’s like gagging them,” his lawyer John Burton told the Daily News on Tuesday. “It would be like if I put my hand over your mouth if you try to tell me something.”

Meister reflexively pulled his arms away and jumped over a small fence to create space so he could better communicate, Burton said, but Officers Jeffrey Salmon and Jeffrey Tysl apparently took that as an act of aggression.

One of the officers executed a carotid chokehold, Burton said, briefly knocking Meister out. Authorities took him to a hospital where he was charged with assaulting police officers.

That charge, however, was dropped and the Hawthorne Police Department is now facing a lawsuit for violating Meister’s civil rights.

The Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness filed the lawsuit on behalf of Meister. It was filed on Feb. 13, exactly one year after the incident.

“The arresting officers either did not have or did not choose to apply common sense to handle a non-threatening situation that could have been resolved in a few minutes,” Meister said in a statement.

Officers Salmon, Tysl, Bristow and Hultgren and Hawthorne Police Chief Robert Fager are all named in the lawsuit.

A Hawthorne Police Department spokesman told NBC that its officers were “trained to deal with incidents where communication, for various reasons, can sometimes be difficult.”

“Officers make every effort to communicate effectively and bring every one of these incidents to a peaceful resolution,” he added.

Meister, who has a Master’s degree in architecture, had never been arrested before the incident. And what happened to him was completely unnecessary, his lawyer says.

“There frequently are incidents where police are using force where they are misinterpreting conduct that’s a product of a disability,” Burton said.

While most police officers perform their jobs with great discipline and professionalism, there are some who lack the self-discipline needed for the job and abuse their authority by using excessive force sometimes with disastrous consequences for all involved.  When excessive force is used by police officers and other law enforcement officials, they must be held accountable and the consequences must be high.

If you have been injured as a result of the use of excessive force by a police officer or law enforcement official, you may be entitled to recover damages such as lost wages, past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering and even punitive damages. You have a limited period of time to file a claim so it is critical to contact an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney as soon as possible. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 781-618-3197, or toll free at 1-888-682-9194, or use our contact form to send us an e-mail. Get your free legal consultation today with Massachusetts injury attorney at Curran & Desharnais, P.C.

Story Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/california-cops-taser-deaf-man-unconscious-communicate-article-1.1618103#ixzz2uTIHEO6w

civil rights suit, civil rights violations, Personal Injury, Uncategorized, wrongful death

If you enjoyed this post, please consider to leave a comment or subscribe to the feed and get future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.