not once during what became a three-hour encounter with APD did any one of the officers at the scene – in all there were three, including a supervisor (an EMS crew was also called to check out Valdez, who was scraped and limping after being forced to the ground by Willis) – attempt to communicate with Valdez in any meaningful way. Instead, as the police video reflects, they merely raised their voices and repeated the same commands multiple times – as if speaking louder would somehow cure Valdez's deafness. It seems that because Valdez, who attended mainstream public schools, has learned to "vocalize" fairly well, the officers completely disregarded her disability. In fact, when Willis cuffed Valdez, he did so with her hands behind her back, which effectively ended any opportunity for her to communicate with him by signing or writing notes.Smith goes through the dashcam video of the incident in some detail (excerpts from which are provided at the end of the story), describing how the officer involved apparently believed yelling at the suspect would somehow overcome her deafness. I was reminded by the story of trips to Mexico where I've seen Americans who apparently think speaking slowly or raising their voice would cause whoever they're speaking to to suddenly understand English. Shouting at a deaf person to "Listen up" is one of the most idiotic things I've heard on a dashcam video in quite a while.
Several critical policy concerns arise from the story: First, APD doesn't enforce its own policy of providing interpreters for deaf people and many if not most officers are either unaware of or ignore the policy. Also, APD officers supposedly certified as "bilingual" in sign language often are incompetent at it (in one example given an officer was "signing 'jail' instead of 'wait,' and 'fuck you' instead of 'OK.'"). Finally, there may be "Brady violations" (failure to disclose exculpatory evidence) from police failing to retain written notes from interactions with deaf people.
I'd bet dollars to donuts these same issues arise in many if not most other departments around the state. Jordan did a fine job on this story, which deserves to be read in full.