64-year-old Pearl Pearson, a deaf man, was left with bloody eyes after Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers repeatedly punched him in the face.
It all started when police pulled Pearson over for fleeing the scene of a traffic accident.
Pearson claims that as soon as he rolled down his window, a cop punched him directly in the face. According to a website set up for Pearson, “Pearl pulled over and rolled down his window, expecting an officer to ask for [his] identification. An officer struck him in the face before Pearl had the chance to do anything. As you can see, he was struck multiple times.”
A police report, on the other hand, claims that Pearson resisted arrest. The affidavit states that Pearson “refused to comply with repeated lawful orders to display his hands… physical altercation ensued for approximately seven minutes.” Police allege they did not know that Pearson was deaf, even though this fact is indicated on his license. His driver’s door also has a sign on it that says, “Driver is deaf.”
Pearson was ultimately taken into custody for resisting arrest. His lawyer, Bill Coyle, said, “My client is completely innocent of these allegations. We are waiting on the OHP report and we are sorting through the facts of the case. My client is profoundly deaf and was trying to give officers his specialty license during the stop.”
Pearson claims that he asked the officers to provide him with an interpreter, but they did not. His website says, “An interpreter was never provided while Pearl was under the care of law enforcement. Not during the booking, hospital, or time at the jail was an interpreter provided, even though Pearl requested one.”
The two officers involved in the incident, Eric Foster and Kelton Hayes, have been placed on paid leave while an internal investigation is conducted.
Oklahoma Department of Public Safety spokesman George Brown said, “If it is determined there were any violations of department policy, the appropriate action will be taken.”