Using the violent arrest of Pearl Pearson Jr., a 64 year-old deaf African-American from Oklahoma as an example, actress and police officer spouse Marlee Matlin is requesting signatures on a petition asking the Department of Justice to provide more training for law enforcement in dealing with the deaf at traffic stops.
As this video report from KFOR indicates, Oklahoma state troopers Eric Foster, Kelton Hayes and Jason Owens were cleared of wrong-doing by District Attorney David Prater during the arrest. As Pearson reached for his placard indicating his hearing-impaired status, the DA believes the officers felt reasonably threatened by the movement of his hands.
Of course if you watch the raw dashcam footage in its entirety, armed with the information that Pearson is profoundly deaf, it is somewhat understandable that he may not have been able to follow all of their verbal commands and one might think that after he started trying to vocalize, they could have had an idea.
It isn't really clear from the petition what Matlin is asking. The petition language is all about training and emphasis on the ADA guidelines regarding police interaction with the hearing-impaired, copies of which were posted by the ACLU in April along with an eight-minute video from her informing the deaf community of their rights and how to be safe.
Still, as I usually do with ACLU petitions, I signed.