A deaf woman who said she was wrongly arrested by cops who ignored her disability settled her case for $750,000 Tuesday — a figure her attorneys say is the largest of its kind.
Diana Williams charged in her suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court that the NYPD officers who slapped her in cuffs ignored police guidelines requiring them to request a sign language interpreter when interacting with deaf people.
“Deaf individuals have rights, and they do not have to tolerate discrimination and injustices of any kind,” her attorneys Andrew Rozynski and Eric Baum said in a statement.
“Ms. Williams hopes that the settlement will send a message to all law enforcement agencies across the country that they should adopt proper policies and procedures to ensure full communication access for deaf individuals.”
Williams’ ordeal began Sept. 11, 2011, when she called 911 for assistance evicting a difficult tenant from her Staten Island home.
Most of the people in the house were deaf, but cops allegedly ignored training requiring them to request an interpreter.
Without being able to explain to Williams what was happening, Officer Christian Romano arrested her and the tenant for allegedly getting in a fight, and for the next 24 hours police ignored her attempts to communicate, the suit said.
Williams was so panicked she even wrote the letters “HOSP” on the window of a police cruiser in an effort to tell them she needed to go to the hospital, the suit says.
Romano checked the “No” box on the arrest report asking if an interpreter was needed, according to documents. He later checked “No” on different paperwork asking if Williams had a disability.
Williams’ attorneys, who run the Eisenberg and Baum Law Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, said they believe their client has received the largest payout ever to an individual alleging deaf discrimination by a public agency. A deaf advocate at the firm, Sheryl Eisenberg-Michalowski, also worked on the case.
“Settling was in the best interest of the city,” a Law Department spokesman said.