HOUSTON (CN) – After a neighbor punched a deaf man in the face, Harris County prosecutors and constables refused to provide an interpreter to take his statement, but relied on his attacker’s story to decline to press charges, the deaf man claims in Federal Court.
Andrew Scofield, who is “completely deaf” and uses sign language, sued the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and Precinct 4 Constables Office, alleging disability discrimination.
Scofield claims he was walking his dog on a leash with his children on May 5 when an unleashed dog owned his neighbor “Mr. Provost” charged and lunged at them.
“Mr. Scofield approached Mr. Provost and tried to use sign language to
communicate to Mr. Provost that his dog needed to be on a leash,” the complaint states. “Instead of apologizing or even reasonably responding, Mr. Provost responded violently by brutally attacking Mr. Scofield, punching him in the face causing pain, injury, and profuse bleeding.
“Plaintiff Scofield called 911 via videophone relay to report his injuries and receive medical attention. EMT personnel arrived at the scene and Mr. Scofield asked for an interpreter. He was not provided an interpreter.
“When the police arrived on the scene, plaintiff once again asked for an interpreter. He was not provided one, but instead plaintiff’s son was taken away without plaintiff’s knowledge or consent.
“The son was a mere thirteen years old but was essentially asked to provide his own deaf father’s position and explanation of the incident. It is critical to note that the plaintiff’s son is also hard of hearing, which compounded the problem.
“The police refused to take statements from plaintiff and seemingly made a determination that the two men engaged in mutual combat, without examining or investigating Scofield’s narrative.
“Upon information and belief, a statement was taken from Provost, and because he was hearing, his statement was given full credibility and reliability, without determining the veracity thereof. Plaintiff Scofield’s victimization essentially went ignored.”
Scofield says a police photographer came to his house the next day, but again, without an interpreter to take his statement.
“On or around May 7th, 2012 plaintiff and family contacted the Harris County
District Attorney’s Office. The Scofields were merely circulated back and again to an intake specialist,” the complaint states.
“Eventually the message was conveyed that if plaintiff Scofield wanted to submit a report utilizing an interpreter, that it would need to be paid by Mr. Scofield, the victim in this matter.
“Plaintiff Scofield, through his attorney, made several attempts to work through law enforcement entities. Specifically, counsel wrote a letter on June 4th to the Constable’s Office, Precinct Four, demanding a statement be taken by Mr. Scofield, with an interpreter, and a request to prosecute Mr. Provost, the attacker.
“These requests were rebuffed.”
Determined to get justice, Scofield, through his attorney, sent the DA’s office a letter on June 8, again requesting an interpreter, an investigation and prosecution, according to the complaint.
“In response, the District Attorney’s Office asserted that it would take a statement, but only at plaintiff Scofield’s personal expense,” the complaint states.
Scofield seeks damages for Americans with Disabilities Act violations and “a full investigation and prosecution of the attacker.”
He is represented by Deborah Crain, of Stafford.