Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Lawsuit over Police Beating
A deaf man's lawsuit against a Minnesota County may be settled today. Douglas Bahl sued the Ramsey County and city of St. Paul for jailing him without access to an interpreter. A judge dismissed Bahl's federal lawsuit against the city, which he has appealed. In the meantime, the Ramsey County Commission will vote on a proposed settlement at today's commission meeting. The specifics have not been made public. It all started five years ago, when police stopped Bahl for running a red light. When he tried to communicate that he was deaf, officers sprayed him with mace and hit him. The policemen blame Bahl for starting the confrontation, saying he hit and bit one of them. But the officer's written account indicates show they were frustrated that Bahl did not "speak" with them and they failed to grasp that Bahl was deaf during the altercation. Then Bahl spent nearly four days in the Ramsey County Jail without the knowledge of his family. He says deputies wouldn't get him an interpreter. The sheriff says he offered Bahl a TTY phone the first day but he wanted to send an email to his family. Bahl says the next three days he was not provided an interpreter or allowed access to TTY. His first court appearance was even put off because Ramsey County authorities failed to provide him with an interpreter. Bahl ultimately was convicted of a misdemeanor. The Sheriff’s office says conditions have improved since the incident.