Las Vegas, NV — As TFTP reported this week, police officers in the land of the free do not go to extensive training programs where they learn various means of dealing with the citizens they are tasked with serving. Most of their training is devoted to shooting their guns, leaving them vastly under trained when it comes to dealing with those who have a disability or mental illness. As a result of this gross incompetence innocent people suffer based solely on the ignorance of the officers. Andrea Hollingsworth, who is deaf, learned this the hard way.
The North Las Vegas Police Department recently released body camera footage of Hollingsworth’s detainment and subsequent mistreatment from an unnecessary stop last March. Hollingsworth is handcuffed in front of her twin 11-year-old daughters as cops display their incompetence by forcing her children to interpret for their mother. This is in spite of the fact that the NLVPD has a deaf interpreter on staff 24/7 available via ipad or cellphone.
According to the Las Vegas ACLU, the incident was a “clear violation” of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“There could have been at least attempts to do a different form of communication in the interim while waiting for an interpreter,” Nikki Levy, staff attorney with the ACLU of Nevada to the Las Vegas Review Journal last month after cellphone footage of the incident was posted online.
In the newly released body camera footage, we see the incident from the officers’ perspectives. It is nothing short of infuriating.
“Settle down, stop this,” one officer said to the crying girls. “One of you guys needs to talk some sense into her.”
As the girls cry, thinking police are about to kill their mother, another officer comes over and demands they translate for their mother. According to his report filed after the incident, officer Michael Rose interpreted Hollingsworth’s attempts to communicate as a lack of cooperation.
Hollingsworth was “very uncooperative,” Rose wrote, calling her use of American Sign Language “constant erratic hand movements.” These erratic hand movements, which were Hollingsworth’s only means of communicating, apparently set Rose off, who used it as an excuse to shove the innocent deaf woman to the ground.
“Tell her to put her hands behind her back,” an officer is recorded saying to the 11-year-olds.
“You’re not listening,” the officer yells at the deaf woman who can’t possible listen to him.
According to police, they stopped Hollingsworth that night because a friend had reported Hollingsworth was “stalking and harassing” them. However, Hollingsworth’s children told police they had recently moved out of an apartment and that friend owed them $200 in rent money.
It is hardly considered “stalking” when someone attempts to get back money they are owed. Nevertheless, police treated this innocent deaf mother like a hardened criminal.
“She is just here because she needs her money back from her friend,” one of the 11-year-olds tells the officer on the video.
The incompetence of the officers came to a peak during the detainment when they were demanding the children translate for their deaf mother and the twins point out that she is in handcuffs.
“How can she sign with her hands behind her?” one of her daughters asked the officers.
According to Hollingsworth, who spoke to KVVU, her daughters were frightened that night because they have seen the myriad of videos and cases of police officers hurting entirely innocent people.
“I don’t know, I’m being pulled over and he is interrogating me … I am black, I am deaf, George Floyd just happened,” Hollingsworth told the station. “The police officer pulled my arm … and I was like, ‘whoa, why?’ I have never experienced anything like that in my life,” Hollingsworth said.
After being assaulted, traumatized, and humiliated by police, Hollingsworth was released without charges.
“I never thought this would happen to me because I am not a criminal,” Hollingsworth said. “My kids are afraid because of all the incidents that have been happening recently. They are raised Black in this community, so when they see a police officer, they are also on high alert.”
Pro Bono ASL, a local organization that provides interpreters, started a GoFundMe page for the family.
“The horrible events that occurred are in direct violation of the American with Disabilities Act,” the group said on the page. “Children should never be forced into interpreting for their parents, especially in such high stakes situations.”
Despite the clear violation of the ADA, requiring children to act as interpreters, the NLVPD maintain they did everything by the book.
Below is the body camera footage of the incident.
Below is the original Facebook live video.