BRIGHTON, Colo. (AP) – A lawsuit claims Adams County authorities detained a deaf man for 25 days in jail without providing a sign-language interpreter before domestic assault charges were eventually dropped.
Timothy Siaki’s lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court seeks unspecified damages and a finding that Adams County officials violated the Americans With Disabilities Act over his May 14, 2010, arrest and detention.
The Denver Post reports Siaki doesn’t read or write English or read lips, but he does communicate through American Sign Language. Deputies arrested Siaki after a noise complaint at a motel where Siaki and his fiancDee were verbalizing sounds while arguing.
Deputies responding to the complaint knocked down the motel-room door and tackled Siaki after he failed to respond to their commands.
An Adams County sheriff’s spokesman says officials need to review the suit before commenting. Siaki’s fiancee, Kimberlee Moore, as well as Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition advocacy group are also plaintiffs in the suit.
Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr is named as the defendant.
“There were 25 days of his life that he had access to nothing — no information on why he was being held, no information about his case or what was going to happen to him,” said Kevin William, an attorney who filed the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Moore tried to tell the deputies that Siaki didn’t hurt her but couldn’t because she was not provided an interpreter or any aids.
The suit claims Adams County is violating the ADA by failing to provide an interpreter or auxiliary aids for deaf suspects during their arrest and booking process.
“To this day,” he said, “we don’t know why he was held for 25 days.”
Williams told the paper the coalition recently settled a similar case against the Lakewood Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office that call for very specific policies for compliance with the ADA.
“They need policies and procedures for folks who are deaf,” Williams said. “People just assume that a deaf person understands what they are saying.”
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