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Friday, April 17, 2009

Cop Breaks Deaf Man's Nose in Traffic Stop

Traffic stop turns violent for deaf man
WFAA-TV - Fort Worth, Texas - April, 2009

Fort Worth settles claim that traffic stop for deaf man turned unnecessarily violent

The city of Fort Worth has reached a $50,000 settlement with a deaf man who claims his nose was broken during a November 2007 traffic stop as he tried to explain to an officer he could not hear. Fort Worth police Sgt. Pedro Criado said settlement Wednesday did not include any admission of wrongdoing on the city's part. The city also released the police dash camera video of the traffic stop. On Nov. 30, Christopher Ferrell, 43, was pulled over for speeding, police said. Criado said Thursday he did not know where the traffic stop occurred. Ferrell’s attorney said his client reached for his identification to inform the officer he was deaf. "He was trying to show his identification to the officer so that the officer would know that he was simply unable to communicate with him on a normal basis," said attorney Paul Goetz. But the dash camera video shows Officer J.A. Miller grabbing Ferrell, swinging him around and slamming his head into the rear windshield. "It did break his nose," Goetz said of the incident. "There was a lot of blood." Miller said he thought Ferrell was reaching for a gun. Miller was suspended for two days without pay after the incident. He still is with the department. "This isolated incident doesn't reflect the professional quality service that the Fort Worth Police Department provides to the citizens of Fort Worth," Criado said. Criado said officers now have access to language interpreters who can get to a scene within 30 minutes of a traffic stop. Staff writer Samantha Urban contributed to this report.

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