The North Las Vegas Police Department asked the children of Andrea Hollingsworth, a Black woman who is deaf, to interpret for them as they arrested her.
Body camera footage released by the department and Hollingsworth’s own Facebook live of the incident has caused backlash as it shows officers involving the children in the arrest of their mother, Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
“Settle down, stop this,” one officer said to the two little girls crying in the back of the car, according to the body camera footage. “One of you guys needs to talk some sense into her."
Another officer came to the scene and asked the girls at least a dozen times to translate the conversation.
Officer Michael Rose claims in his report that Hollingsworth was “very uncooperative,” and called her use of American Sign Language “constant erratic hand movements,” according to the Review-Journal.
“You don’t often see violations that seem this clear,” Nikki Levy, staff attorney with the ACLU of Nevada, said, referring to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The department has 24-hour sign language interpreters available, but department spokesman Alexander Cuevas did not answer why one wasn’t called to the scene.
Hollingsworth was pulled over after a former friend said Hollingsworth was stalking and harassing her.
The officer removed Hollingsworth from her car and pushed her to the ground when she would not sit down, with Hollingsworth apologizing and saying she couldn’t hear him.
“How can she sign with her hands behind her?” one of her girls said during the encounter.
“Officers initially responded to a call from a woman who reported she was afraid to return to her home due to harassment by a former roommate, who was waiting in a vehicle for several hours outside of her home. The driver, who indicated she was deaf, initially refused to comply with requests and was briefly detained until police completed their investigation,” Cuevas told The Hill in a statement.
No charges were filed against Hollingsworth. ProBono ASL started a GoFundMe to raise money to help cover Hollingsworth’s legal fees should she decide to take legal action against the department.
“Children should never be forced into interpreting for their parents, especially in such high stakes situations,” the group said.
“Family members, including minor children, are inherently not impartial and often do not possess the requisite training or vocabulary to interpret effectively or accurately,” Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, said. “To rely on children to interpret is extremely risky — not only is it automatically ineffective communication under federal law, but it is often very traumatizing for the children and the parent.”
Updated 12:10 p.m.