Sprayed and tased in Hillcrest's commercial zone

Deaf man claims police didn't believe he was disabled

Jeffrey Robinson being subdued by three police officers
  • Jeffrey Robinson being subdued by three police officers
  • Facebook photo by Jay Heimbach

A deaf man says he was doused with pepper spray and tased for parking in a commercial loading zone in Hillcrest for two minutes.

The man, Jeffrey Robinson, has since filed a claim to San Diego's Risk Management Department seeking damages up to $125,000.

On August 17th of last year Robinson parked his car in a commercial loading zone outside of Flashbacks Recycled Fashion on Fifth Avenue in Hillcrest. He went to his trunk and grabbed two garbage bags full of clothes he wanted to trade in.

He dropped them off at the counter and came back and noticed a parking enforcement officer had already written him a ticket.

In the complaint, Robinson claims the officer threw the ticket at him. Robinson further alleges that while bending down to pick it up, the officer pepper-sprayed him in the face, temporarily blinding him.

Unable to hear, speak, or see, Robinson felt his way to the trunk of his car to get a towel to wipe his face and eyes.

Unbeknownst to him, three San Diego police officers had arrived. As he rummaged through his truck an officer tased him before officers cuffed him. The officers, he believes, all considered him to be intoxicated and never thought he was deaf.

Robinson claims that he began to convulse from the electric shock.

"None of the officers that arrived knew sign language and could not communicate effectively with Mr. Robinson. A sign language interpreter was not called to the scene," reads the October 3 claim.

"In short, Mr. Robinson was blinded and tased because he was deaf. He was not treated in the same manner that non-deaf people get treated. His expressions and signs resulting from his disability were misinterpreted as intoxication. There was no effective communication resulting in the denial of the public service provided to other individuals who can hear and speak when in the process of and being taken into custody."

If the claim is denied then a lawsuit will likely be filed.

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