Innocent Deaf Man Tasered by Hawthorne Police

Hawthorne police beat and Tasered a deaf man as he signed to them that he was deaf and his friend had given him the snowboard he was carrying, claimed the victim in court.
In a federal complaint for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Jonathan Meister claimed the attack could have been avoided had Hawthorne trained its police officers to communicate with the hearing impaired.
Officers confronted Meister on Feb. 13 outside a friend’s home as he picked up a snowboard and clothing for a trip to Utah, Meister stated in the lawsuit.
Meister says he used hand gestures to try to tell police he is deaf and was at the home lawfully. The police “shot Taser darts into Mr. Meister, administered a number of painful electric shocks, struck him with fists and feet, and forcibly took him to the ground,” said Meister in the complaint.
Officers kicked and punched him in the back and stomach, choked and Tasered him, delivering “punishing shocks” and intentionally “burning his flesh,” Meister claimed.
He says four officers took part in the attack: Jeffrey Salmon, Jeffrey Tysl, Erica Bristow and Mark Hultgren.
After he was knocked unconscious and taken to a hospital, he was cited for assaulting the officers and released, but the charges were dropped.
“This incident occurred in substantial part because the HPD does not provide its officers the training and resources to serve people who are deaf or hard of hearing, including those who communicate primarily through American Sign Language,” the lawsuit states.
Meister is seeking punitive, statutory, and treble damages for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and civil rights violations.
Also named as defendants are the City of Hawthorne, its Police Department and Police Chief Robert Fager.
Numerous, similar lawsuits have been filed across the country, in which police beat and arrested diabetics suffering from insulin shock, believing that they were drunk.

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