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Deaf Woman Calls Police for Help; Police Arrive and Shoot Her with Taser, Then Arrest Her


KIRO TV’s investigative unit has discovered Tacoma police used force to arrest and handcuff an innocent deaf woman after she called 911 for their help.

Instead of an apology, she ended up bloody and in jail for nearly three days without an interpreter before a prosecutor declined to press charges.

After months of digging, investigative reporter Chris Halsne found significant discrepancies in the official police version of events leading up to Lashonn White’s arrest.

Late in the evening on April 6, White said she called for police assistance after a guest reportedly attacked her in her own apartment.

Deaf since birth, White used a special video-equipped phone, connected to a TV and a Web camera, to call 911. A certified American Sign Language interpreter on the other end verbally relayed White’s pleas for help to a Tacoma police dispatcher.

“I said, ‘Please hurry! There’s a person here beating me up,’” White explained to Halsne during a television interview last month.

A recording of White’s 911 call from that evening reveals her urgency.

“Right now! This is serious!”

“She’s fighting at me, then she chokes me. She’s coming right at me!”

Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) logs show Tacoma police officer Ryan Koskovich and his partner, Michael Young, were outside White’s apartment complex in about six minutes.

It also reflects that officers received texts along the way stating, “Person doing the hitting is a Sophia” and “Vict. is Lashonn White.”

In addition, it appears from internal police records obtained by KIRO Team 7 Investigators, Koskovich and his partner were repeatedly given information that the victim could not hear a thing.

On the 911 calls, White herself made it perfectly clear.

“I’m deaf.  I can’t hear if they’re out front knocking or whatever … I can’t—are they going to the front or back? Where are the police at?”

Dispatch: “They want her to go outside the front door.”

“Oh, they’re here? Okay, I’m on my way to meet them. I’m going right now.”

White showed our investigative team the route up to the front door from her basement apartment. It’s only one flight of stairs — a 30-second trip.

To her, what happened next defies common sense — especially, for a woman with no criminal record, no arrests and just one minor driving violation on her record.

Within seconds of running outside to meet police, Officer Koskovich pulled his Taser and fired a two-barbed electric wire into White’s ribs and stomach.

“All I’m doing is waving my hands in the air, and the next thing I know, I’m on the ground and then handcuffed. It was almost like I blacked out. I was so dizzy and disoriented,” White said.

Witnesses said White began bleeding heavily from her knuckles and the right side of her face swelled up immediately after she hit the pavement following the Taser jolt.

Pictures acquired by Team 7 Investigators also show injuries to her cheek, chin, ribs, neck and arms.

Worse yet to White was the incredible confusion that came with suddenly being handcuffed, under arrest and without the ability to communicate with Tacoma officers, who had no sign language skills.

“The next thing I know, they took me to jail. Told me to stand up, you’re going to jail. I said, ‘What? What have I done?’ I couldn’t figure it out. I had no idea what was going on,” said White.

Officer Koskovich and his partner submitted nearly identical descriptions of the arrest in their reports.

Koskovich wrote in part: “I yelled for White to ‘stop’ and held my right hand up to signal for White to stop. White ignored my commands.” …

Team 7 Investigators canvassed the area near the Taser incident for witnesses because Koskovich and White’s stories are so vastly different.

Margaret Sims’s apartment is right over the spot where White fell to the ground after being tased. She said it was around 11:30 at night and dark, but she heard Lashonn screaming in pain and ran to the balcony.

“I hollered down and said, ‘She’s deaf and can’t speak!’”

Sims says she went down to the street and spoke with officers while Lashonn was still in handcuffs. She told us during an on-camera interview that the police officers at the scene admitted there was a misunderstanding.

Rogue Metro Gang “Strike Force”

From the Star Tribune:

A toddler, not yet 2 years old, was kicked in the head by a Metro Gang Strike Force officer and his crib was destroyed during a botched drug raid. The government’s payout to the child: $6,000.

A Lincoln Navigator SUV, seized by the Strike Force, was returned to the owner 18 months later, with 20,000 more miles on it. Payout to the owner: $25,000.

In other raids, officers improperly seized a blender, class rings, an ice augur and a stump digger. One man lost some Twins baseball hats he said were autographed by Joe Mauer. His compensation: $2,000 if the caps are not returned.

The stories and payouts to 96 victims of the now-defunct Strike Force, cited in 600 pages of documents released last week in a class-action lawsuit, provide the most detailed picture yet of an out-of-control police squad, and put a price on every wrongful seizure, unjustified punch or dubious raid.

The $3 million suit was filed on July 30, 2009, less than two weeks after the scandal-ridden unit, made up of officers from metro agencies, was shut down by then-Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion. The collapse of the Metro Gang Strike Force revealed widespread illegal behavior by officers and prompted new laws and policies designed to improve oversight and accountability of police in Minnesota. …

In August 2006, Strike Force officers and the Minneapolis police SWAT unit broke into a residence, based on an informant’s information about the sale of cocaine. They found a small amount of marijuana, but no cocaine or two drug dealers they were looking for. An officer tried to kick a woman, but instead kicked her toddler. A photo showed a bruise on his forehead. A $289 crib was destroyed.

In its defense, the Strike Force called it “a high-risk raid and that officers are permitted to use force commensurate with the danger,” Gehan wrote.

“I am unable to discern why it would be necessary to kick claimant’s mother,” Gehan wrote, issuing a $6,000 award.

And this:

The payouts come from the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, which insured the Strike Force. About $2 million will be used for training law enforcement statewide on proper seizure methods and racial and cultural sensitivity.

Training??  Like … “Remember people!  Y’all can’t just take flat screen TVs whenever you want to.  Or take cash away from Hispanics.”   One wonders where these officers are now and what they’ve been doing since these incidents.



National Police Misconduct News Feed Daily Recap 08-02-12

Here are the 14 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, August 2, 2012:
  • Birmingham, Alabama: a Birmingham police officer has been indicted for two separate excessive force incidents. “We will prosecute those few who abuse their law enforcement powers and violate the civil rights of others who are in their custody,” noted the U.S. Attorney involved.
  • Lithonia, Georgia: the police chief has been accused of trying to serve his own eviction notice. “He basically provided a sworn statement to the courts that he himself could not be found,” according to a spokesperson for the state agency that voted to revoke him.
  • Wagner, South Dakota: the police chief has been arrested and charged with misprision of felony.
  • Harris County, Texas: a deputy constable has been arrested and accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child.
  • Struthers, Ohio: a police officer has been fired after refusing a breathalyzer test.
  • Baltimore, Maryland: a Lake County, Florida deputy has been suspended without pay after being arrested for indecent exposure.
  • Rogersville, Tennessee: an ex-Hawkins County deputy has pleaded guilty in a missing evidence case.
  • Monroe, North Carolina: a Waxhaw police sergeant has been charged with DWI.
  • Los Angeles, California: the county has paid out nearly $2m to settle excessive force lawsuits involving its deputies.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: an officer has charged with helping his half-brother and heroin traffickers.
  • Atlantic County, New Jersey: a Philadelphia police officer has been indicted and charged with resisting arrest and aggravated assault on a policeman. She’s also been suspended with intent to dismiss.
  • Troy, Alabama: a former officer has been indicted for multiple sex crimes against a child under the age of 12.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: an officer has been fired for a hit and run and DWI. A department spokeswoman noted that officers “are expected to conduct themselves in a respectable, appropriate manner–both on and off the clock.”
  • Houston, Texas: two Houston police officers have been arrested and charged with stealing drugs. They’ve also been relieved of duty pending an internal investigation.

Praise for Retiring Police Chief

From the Washington Post:

Prince William Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert said that [Police Chief Charlie] Deane has embodied the principles of honesty and integrity, evidenced by the fact that there has never been a major scandal unearthed at the department.

“He insists on everyone in his department being good policemen, and he won’t tolerate dishonesty,” Ebert said.

Deane said he has fired police officers for lying to him. And he has been willing to air the department’s dirty laundry when necessary, especially when his officers have been found breaking the law.

“The community has a right to hold their officers to very high standards,” Deane said. “We can’t expect them to have confidence in us, to trust us, to report crimes to us, without us being honorable people.”

True that.



Fighting City Hall — The Kelly Thomas Case

From Huffington Post:

Kelly’s Army worked tirelessly to publicize the beating, which Establishment types would have liked to sweep under the carpet, subtly or not-so-subtly trying to blame Kelly for his own death. Kelly’s Army got the ear of the Orange County DA, which in itself was a stunner considering how the System protects its own. For the first time ever in Orange County an on-duty police officer was charged with murder — as if it were the first time in the history of Orange County that an innocent person was killed by rogue cops.

Kelly’s Army then dealt with the other part of the System. They got the unresponsive city council majority recalled. Travis Kiger, a smart and mild-mannered computer professional, who was one of the first to express his outrage and blog about Kelly’s killing, went from anti-Establishment blogger to City Councilman. The winds of change are indeed blowing through Fullerton.

Read the whole thing.   Previous coverage here.

National Police Misconduct News Feed Daily Recap 08-01-12

Here are the 14 reports of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, August 1, 2012:

  • Los Osos, California: a San Luis Obispo County deputy has been arrested on a domestic violence charge. “The Sheriff’s Office holds our employees to the same or higher standards than other members of the comunity,” according to the department’s spokesperson.
  • Payson, Arizona: a civilian has sued the town police department and three officers. The complaint claims that he was subjected to excessive force.
  • Auburn, New York: a former police officer has been sentenced to seven years for embezzling from a Police Benevolent Association while serving as its treasurer. “This defendant has let down the public. He’s let down his comrades,” per the Cayuga County District Attorney.
  • Horicon, Minnesota: an off-duty officer was arrested for allegedly driving drunk and having his personal handgun in the car with him.  “He remains on the police department and has an otherwise good service record,” according to the department’s chief.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: a former officer has pleaded guilty to federal drug, assault, and theft charges. He faces up to life in prison.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: a fired police officer has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for molesting a crime victim. He raped the 19-year-old in question after she had called 911 because her house was being vandalized. His sentence was extended for an additional two years for perjury.
  • St. Louis, Missouri: a South St. Louis County officer tased a 12-year-old girl in Victoria’s Secret. The officer had been looking for the girl’s mother, who had warrants out for her arrest for “numerous unresolved traffic tickets”. We posted some relevant news footage here
  • El Dorado Hills, California: a retired El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy has been sentenced to five years for embezzlement. He stole more than $300,000 from the county deputies’ union, of which he was president.
  • Orlando, Florida: a man suspected of credit card theft is suing the city of Orlando and the officers who arrested him. The officers claimed that they shot at him in the incident because he had rammed their patrol cars. A surveillance tape, however, suggests that an unmarked police car hit the suspect’s van first, pushing it into the other cars.
  • Queens, New York: an NYPD detective has been suspended without pay after a kidnapping victim was found, bound and gagged, in his garage.
  • Austin, Texas: an officer has been fired for violating department policies in addition to his having been charged with assault in March. The charges stemmed from an altercation with his wife.
  • Los Angeles County, California: a sheriff’s deputy has been charged with perjury and filing a false police report. He allegedly falsely accused a couple of being under the influence: “I’d seen it in the movies, but never in a million years did I think it would happen to me,” said one of them.
  • Anderson, South Carolina: a deputy has been charged with misconduct and drug offenses. He was arrested and fired. “We take our officers’ conduct very seriously,” per the sheriff. “When there is a problem, we deal with it and we deal with it strictly.”
  • Wilder, Vermont: a civilian has filed a lawsuit against police officers and town officials. He alleges cops beat and pepper-sprayed him inside his own home because he is African-American.

National Police Misconduct News Feed Daily Recap 07-31-12

Here are the 9 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, July 31, 2012:

  • Update: Atlanta, Georgia: the chief of police fired an officer who crashed his car into another motorist, killing her. The officer has been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide.
  • North Chicago, Illinois: the police have paid out $40,000 to settle a complaint over a police dog attack and has fired the officer in question. Per the complaint, he allowed a dog to bite a fleeing suspect and break his leg. The settlement comes amid concerns voiced by a retired operations commander about problematic levels of excessive force.
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland: a police officer has been indicted on charges of first- and second-degree assault and misconduct after he allegedly assaulted a 13-year-old at gunpoint.
  • Tempe, Arizona: a police officer has resigned after admitting to stealing police property and about $1,000 in cash. Among the items he stole were two police bicycles he claimed to have given his children as gifts.
  • Wichita, Kansas: a police chase nearly ended in tragedy as the suspect car came within four feet of 3 young girls in a swimming pool. The chase started over a minor traffic violation.
  • Columbus, Ohio: a police and school resource officer has been arrested by the FBI after allegations that he sexted a student. He’s been relieved of duty and his badge and gun have been confiscated.
  • Taft, Texas: a police officer has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old. He’ll pay restitution and spend five years in prison; his wife, found guilty of attempted sexual assault, has been sentenced to 60 days and community service. “He got a short time, compared to my daughter’s lifetime agony. She, she has to live with this, for the rest of her life,” said the victim’s father.
  • New York, New York: the city has settled for $225,000 with a bicyclist whose jaw was broken during an argument with a police officer. He had stopped her for using her bike on the sidewalk.
  • Rooks County, Kansas: a sheriff has pleaded guilty to four felony counts of distributing meth. He dealt at the Rooks County Fairgrounds and within 1,000 feet of a local high school.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 07-28-12 to 07-30-12

Here are the 11 reports of police misconduct tracked for Saturday, July 28 to Monday, July 30, 2012:

  • Update: Melbourne, Florida: A police officer was fired for picking up prostitutes from his patrol car, while he was in uniform. He didn’t know that dashboard cameras were gathering evidence against him.
  • Phoenix, Arizona: An officer pleaded not guilty on multiple counts of tampering with evidence, possession of narcotics and dangerous drugs, computer tampering , felony theft, and fraudulent schemes.
  • Dallas County, Texas: A former deputy was formally charged with bribery for tipping off a business about an impending raid. He was seen “hastily leaving the location prior to their arrival,” sheriff reports said. The deputy resigned after the accusation.
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey: Two State police officers escorted a high-speed caravan of luxury cars, will be criminally charged. One motorist who saw the incident described it as “Death Race 2012.”
  • Syracuse, New York: An officer, who was responsible for investigating child abuse cases for the county, admitted to having child pornography on his home computer.
  • Manhattan, New York: The man who was charged with disorderly conduct for giving the finger to officers is now suing the city. “I’ve never seen a single case in New York saying that a middle finger is an obscene gesture under the disorderly conduct statute,” said attorney Robert Quackenbush, who specializes in civil rights law.
  • Frankfurt, Illinois: An officer was arrested and charge with domestic battery after allegedly choking and headbutting a woman. The officer is on administrative leave pending the investigation.
  • Lakeside, Oregon: A man died, and three others were injured, in a four car crash that occurred because of a chase. The chase began over a speeding driver.
  • Chicago, Illinois: A police officer pleaded guilty to pocketing hundreds of dollars in payoffs from a tow truck operator who was secretly working for the FBI as part of an undercover probe that exposed widespread bribery at crash scenes.
  • Louisa, Virginia: A police officer pleaded guilty to embezzling thousands of dollars from the volunteer fire department.
  • Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina: The police chief has been suspended as the investigation into allegations that he abused his power begin. The investigation began at the request of a judge and the district attorney’s office.


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