Adams County Changes Policy After Deaf Man’s Legal Challenge
BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – A deaf man who filed a lawsuit after not being provided a sign language interpreter during an arrest in Adams County has received a settlement of $100,000.
The sheriff in Adams County says that the lawsuit has resulted in significant changes to the way deaf people are handled when they are arrested in the county.
Timothy Siaki was arrested in 2010 at a Super 8 motel in a domestic violence incident. Since he’s hearing impaired Siaki couldn’t understand the commands from the arresting officers when they entered the motel room.
Siaki and his girlfriend Kimberlee Moore, who is also deaf, sued the Adams County Sheriff’s office for not providing a sign language interpreter throughout the booking process, which is required by law.
“Tim Siaki was pointing at his ears and shaking his head ‘No,’ ” said Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition spokesman Kevin Williams, who represents the couple. “They grabbed his arms, handcuffed his hands behind his back and threw him to the floor.”
Siaki spent 25 days in the Adams County Jail before the charges were eventually dropped.
The lawsuit was filed last November and the settlement was finalized earlier this week.
“It’s just amazing to me that any governmental entity has not taken the steps to put in place procedures to ensure that people who are deaf have appropriate communication. It’s just literally shocking,” Williams said.
Sheriff Doug Darr told CBS4 in an e-mail his department is now “in full compliance.”
“Unfortunately some of our policies were not in full compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards and we are responsible for that,” he wrote. “We have resolved those issues and are now in full compliance because we should be.”
Part of fixing the problem includes providing a form to any deaf person who is arrested. It asks if they would like a sign language interpreter as they go through the legal process.
Williams said the couple was satisfied that the department made sure they fixed the problem.
“The sheriff’s office and their attorneys, the county attorneys, were very willing after the lawsuit was filed to reach an agreement rather than litigate. They really demonstrated an interest in complying with the ADA,” Williams said.
Neither Siaki nor Moore were available for comment on the settlement.