On February 13, Jonathan Meister of Manhattan Beach, California, was heading toward his friend’s home in Hawthorne when he was beaten, tasered, and arrested by police when they suspected him of being a burglar. The situation escalated so quickly, that the deaf Meister was unable to sign to communicate with the police via sign language before he was handcuffed.
Here is what you need to know about this unfolding situation:
1. Meister is Non-Verbal & Was Unable to Communicate With Police
Local police confronted Meister outside of his friend’s home on February 13. The police failed to recognize that Meister is deaf even after he began to sign. The police, who allegedly felt threatened by his hand gestures, shot taser darts into him and wrestled him to the ground. According to Meister’s complaint, the police then beat him with their fists and feet.
2. A Neighbor Thought He Looked Suspicious
Meister arrived at his friend’s home, with his friend’s permission at around 6:30 p.m. on the February 13. According to the complaint, he needed to pick up some snowboarding equipment which had been in storage and was left on the unlocked back porch.
When a neighbor saw Meister rummaging through the porch, she called out to him, but he was unable to hear her. She then called the police to investigate.
3. He is Suing the Hawthorne Police
With the help of the Disability Rights Legal Center, Meister if filing suit against the Hawthorne police for compensatory, statutory and punitive damages, reports CBS Los Angeles.
Meister’s attorney, Anna Rivera told CBS, “If the primary way you communicate is to use your hands, and you’re looking at somebody when you speak, when you go to grab somebody without explaining what’s happening and take that method of communication away from them, Mr. Meister became afraid.”
4. He Was Knocked Unconscious & Taken to the Hospital
The assault proved too much for Meister who, according to Courthouse News, passed out and was taken to the hospital to be treated.
5. Charges that He Assaulted an Officer Were Dropped
While at the hospital, Meister was cited with assaulting an officer, a charge that was later dropped. Here, Meister was finally able to communicate with police and explain his condition by writing.