Photo: Clipart.com

Sheriff’s Department settles dispute over handcuffing deaf man

KGMI News Reporting
By Alex Gray

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. – The unlawful arrest and ill treatment of an elderly deaf Blaine man brings about a change in policy.

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office settled a federal civil suit last week awarding 76-year-old Donald Pratt over $62,000 and establishing a policy on the treatment and communication with people who are blind or deaf.

Play Larry Hildes on settlement

Pratt’s attorney, Larry Hildes says in April 2011 authorities arrested Pratt based on a false report by his son.

They handcuffed Pratt so he could not communicate through sign language and held him in the back of a police car for several hours without telling him what was going on.

The new policy says handcuffing a deaf person is like gagging a person who can hear and that deputies should expand their efforts to communicate the situation.