Getting pulled over by the police in New York is a stressful time for anyone. Unfortunately, this stressful situation is often worse for disabled individuals. In some cases, law enforcement can misread someone’s disability as criminal behavior. Disabled people could be accused of a crime, such as DUI or resisting arrest, that they did not commit.
Difficulty hearing law enforcement’s commands
Many civil rights or police misconduct matters involve commands given to civilians. If someone is deaf, these people won’t be able to hear an officer’s commands. Similar situations happen when a disabled person hears commands from law enforcement but doesn’t have the mental capacity to follow them.
Making sudden motions
People with disabilities like Tourette syndrome or similar disabilities often make involuntary movements. Making matters worse, some people’s conditions flare up or worsen when they’re under stress. The stress of a police encounter could cause certain disabled people to make more quick movements than usual. An officer can interpret these movements as someone being nervous or on drugs. Sudden movements by a vehicle’s occupant might lead approaching officers to believe someone’s reaching for a weapon.
Another problem law enforcement encounters when policing disabled people involves the latter’s way of speaking. Certain disabilities can cause people to slur their speech, stutter or otherwise have trouble speaking properly. Unfortunately, these speaking patterns might lead a police officer to falsely believe that a disabled person is under the influence of an illegal substance.
Law enforcement must take precautions when working with disabled people. Far too often, miscommunications can lead law enforcement to unnecessarily escalate situations. If you or a disabled loved one experienced mistreatment, the victim could seek damages against the allegedly guilty party.