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Manhattan Woman Suing NYPD Claims Cops Denied Her Sign Language Interpreter Following Arrest

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) -- A woman has filed suit against the NYPD over the handling of her arrest.

As CBS2's Brian Conybeare reported, she claims the department broke the law because she's deaf and was denied special assistance.

"I had my hands behind my back when they put the handcuffs on," Opal Gordon said.

Speaking through a sign language interpreter, Gordon, 52, of Manhattan described what happened to her on Sept. 21, when she was arrested for allegedly violating an order of protection in a child custody case.

"I was fingerprinted. My picture was taken. I knew they thought I was crazy at that point. I am not crazy. I am not a criminal. I'm a human being, and I have rights," she said.

Gordon was born deaf, and said while being held at the Bronx Criminal Courthouse for nearly 24 hours, she was never given access to a sign language interpreter, or any other assistance to figure out why she was arrested, but one officer did try.

"In sign he said to me, 'Are you deaf?' and I said, 'Yes, please get me an interpreter,' but no one listened to me," she said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that, "Law enforcement agencies must provide the communication aids and services needed to communicate effectively with people who are deaf or hard of hearing."

"Time and again the police department has demonstrated that they are not treating deaf individuals equally. This has to stop," Gordon's attorney Eric Baum said.

The NYPD said they would review the lawsuit, but had no comment.

Gordon and her attorney want a judge to require the NYPD to follow its own policies and federal laws when dealing with deaf people.


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