Recently, Nixon, Vogelman, Slawsky & Simoneau P.A. settled a case that involved a domestic dispute in which the police were involved but didn’t act properly. Our attorneys helped our client receive the best possible outcome, but the true accomplishment came from a choice our client made after the case was over.
The dispute involved two deaf couples who were living in the same place. A husband from one couple was having a row with the wife from the other couple. The fight, regarding the ownership of a television, became so intense that the man picked the TV up and threw it at the woman, our client. Luckily, it missed her, and the police were called shortly afterward.
However, when the police arrived, things had settled down to the point where the dispute was no longer considered an emergency. In a nonemergency situation, the people involved have a right to an interpreter, which the police department should provide. In this instance, the police officer at the scene should have contacted an interpreter for the couples, but they never did.
Not only did the police officer on the scene not contact an interpreter, but he also made our client interpret for the man she was having the dispute with. She is deaf at a higher-functioning level, which means she can speak, but her ability did not justify the right to make her interpret for the officer. During this exchange, our client was forced to interpret a number of offensive names the man was calling her to the police officer.
We sued the police department and won in our client’s favor, but she rejected almost the entirety of the claim. Our client took only a small portion of the money and told the court that what she really wanted was to have the whole of the police department trained to act accordingly if that situation were to happen again.
The police department agreed and received the proper training that our client requested. Knowing when to involve an interpreter will not only help the police department settle disputes similar to this in the future, but it will also help everyone communicate more effectively.