Skip to comments.Police use taser on deaf woman
Posted on 08/06/2012 6:18:41 PM PDT by mom4kittys
KIRO TVs 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 Whites 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.
Deaf since birth, White used a special video-equipped phone, connected to a TV and a Web camera, to call 911. A certified American Sign Language interpreter on the other end verbally relayed Whites pleas for help to a Tacoma police dispatcher.
I said, Please hurry! Theres a person here beating me up, White explained to Halsne during a television interview last month.
A recording of Whites 911 call from that evening reveals her urgency.
Right now! This is serious!
Shes fighting at me, then she chokes me. Shes coming right at me!
Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) logs show Tacoma police officer Ryan Koskovich and his partner, Michael Young, were outside Whites apartment complex in about six minutes.
It also reflects that officers received texts along the way stating, Person doing the hitting is a Sophia and Vict. 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.
On the 911 calls, White herself made it perfectly clear.
Im deaf. I cant hear if theyre out front knocking or whatever I cantare they going to the front or back? Where are the police at?
Dispatch: They want her to go outside the front door.
Oh, theyre here? Okay, Im on my way to meet them. Im going right now.
White showed our investigative team the route up to the front door from her basement apartment. Its only one flight of stairs -- a 30-second trip.
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 Whites ribs and stomach.
All Im doing is waving my hands in the air, and the next thing I know, Im 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, youre going to jail. I said, What? What have I done? I couldnt figure it out. I had no idea what was going on, said White.
Officer Koskovich and his partner submitted nearly identical descriptions of the arrest in their reports.
Koskovich wrote in part: "I yelled for White to 'stop' and held my right hand up to signal for White to stop. White ignored my commands.
He added, "White was making a loud grunting noise, had a piercing stare in her eyes and had a clenched right fist in the air."
Team 7 Investigators canvassed the area near the Taser incident for witnesses because Koskovich and Whites stories are so vastly different.
Margaret Simss 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, Shes deaf and cant 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, stop and he didnt put his hand up. He just said, stop and she couldnt understand that, replied Sims.
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 cant hearshes deaf. I said, Arent you supposed to say halt like that? asked Warren holding up her right hand.
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.
We asked KIRO TV police conduct consultant and former Bellevue police chief Don Van Blaricom to review the conflicting witness and officer accounts of Lashonns arrest, plus the officers official reports.
He told Halsne the officers reports were obviously written in concert, after the fact, to CYA.
The question to ask yourself is: why would she run at police in an assaultive manner when she had asked for them to be there and was going out to meet them? Van Blaricom wondered aloud.
A Taser is a very useful device under circumstances which necessitate its use, but its too easy to use and frequently used too quickly. This looks like one of those cases, Van Blaricom told Halsne during an interview.
State law on the employment of ASL interpreters for deaf suspects is clear.
RCW 2.42.120 (4)requires law enforcement agencies conducting an investigation to appoint and pay for a qualified interpreter throughout the investigation.
RCW 2.42.120 (5) states If a hearing impaired person is arrested for an alleged violation of a criminal law, the arresting officer or the officers supervisor shall, at the earliest possible time, procure and arrange payment for a qualified interpreter for any notification of rights, warning, interrogation, or taking of a statement. No employee of the law enforcement agency who has responsibilities other than interpreting may be appointed as a qualified interpreter.
White said despite her repeated requests to police for a certified ASL interpreter, one was never provided.
The story is complex and the officers at the scene clearly had a different point of view. KIRO 7 Investigators have tried to get their explanation for six weeks and while we've talked to Tacoma Police on the phone they would not respond to the allegations. We've also sent them emails and left several messages.
If Tacoma police want to explain their side of the story, we'll have a follow-up.
She says she went over and talked to officers, whom she says admitted confusion, claiming they thought White was coming at them, fist clenched, not running to them for help.
So, from that it looks like the cops thought she was going to attack them.
Some poster said this story is over a month old and why now is it in Seattle news?
Yeah, I've heard that many times...About peoples pets too.
Two fully trained, fully armed male cops and an unarmed woman waving her arms or making a fist...Electrocute the hag!
She's lucky she wasn't using cane to walk...She'd be in the morgue.
My advise is to avoid calling the local government for help, it at all possible. No joke.
At its most fundamental level, police do not work for the citizenry; they work for government; local, state or feral (spelling intentional). As a group, they protect themselves first and foremost. As a group, they protect those who hired them and sign their paychecks next.
Where it still exists, "to serve and to protect" needs to be painted over.
Yes, I know there are still some good ones, but you can't tell the difference by looking.
Anybody or any animal approaching a cop in any manner other than in submission will be shot. Period.
So tell me, why do they carry batons and pepper spray etc?
You're comments are a joke. No offense.
Why don't cops shoot everyone at those at violent protests, throwing crap at them, as they approach in a threatening manner?
You should stay away from crime threads.
“Yeah, in an earlier post on police misconduct someone said that we need to separate the decent cops from the scum.”
Comes from poor training. Seems in some cities anyone can slip through the police academy these days regardless of how poorly qualified they are.
Oh, my apologies...Ya just never know anymore.
It’s not what you know but who you know. You can have the IQ of a gnat and still get a city or county job if you know the right people. That doesn’t have any effect on the quality of the product or service though ( /sarc)
TWO PHYSICALLY FIT COPS HAD NO FRICKIN REASON TO TASER ONE WOMAN WITH HER EMPTY HANDS IN THE AIR, DEAF OR NOT.
NO EXCUSES. SEND A MESSAGE, PUNISH THE BASTARDS AND MAKE SURE THEY NEVER WORK AS POLICE AGAIN!
Actually my fault for not putting that </sarc at the end.
“a gun is better than 911”
If that isn’t a t-shirt or bumper sticker slogan, it needs to be.
A criminal beating up a deaf woman? We can’t have THAT!
The criminal isn’t part of a *union*.
Now, a *union* conducted beating, *that’s* the quality of beating which should be meted out!
< /sarc >
Thanks! If someone breaks in to my home THEY had better call 911.
How about let’s ask why the criminal who first assaulted her got off scott free and this woman’s constitutional rights were violated?
“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. “
Gee, did the witnesses make it up too?
Are you done expressing your outrage that anyone DARED question the Most Holy and Right Reverend Officers?
I find it very telling that you’re more interested in condemning the activity of the media—who did not taze a deaf woman, than you are in condemning those officers, who did taze a deaf woman.
Indeed. How DARE the media EVER speak against King Barry’s Knights of the Realm?
Conservatives don’t WANT skin color to be an issue raised by the media.
It is a liberal desire to expect the media to make skin color an issue.
Whatever. You know best, I’m sure.
Judge me as you wish, I don’t give an Obama.