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Deaf Drivers Settle with North Las Vegas Over Discriminatory Police Treatment

by Christopher Zoukis

Jeffrey Beardsley and Melissa Ward reached a settlement with the City of North Las Vegas, Nevada, for an undisclosed amount after suing the city for mistreatment, malpractice and civil rights violations by employees of the police department, detention center, prosecutor's office and municipal court.

On November 30, 2002, Beardsley was stopped for a traffic violation by Officer William Silva. Beardsley informed Silva that he was deaf and requested that he write down what he was saying. Silva allegedly refused and issued him a ticket. When Beardsley addressed the issue in traffic court, he claimed that Silva threatened him.

On August 14, 2003, Silva again pulled Beardsley over. Beadersley alleged that Silva used excessive force, hurting his wrist and arm. He was handcuffed and taken to the police station where the processing officers refused to get an interpreter.

Ward, who also is deaf, was stopped by Officer Steven Baker for a traffic violation on August 26, 2004. Baker arrested her, and her request for an interpreter was refused at the detention center and in court. Ward alleged that she was held in jail without being told why or for how long.

On May 2, 2005, Beardsley and Ward sued North Las Vegas, Silva, and Baker in federal court, along with other employees and agents of the police, prosecutor and court: Markie Dixon, Joseph Forti, Filippo Anthony Liani, Sean T. McGowan, Debbie Miller, Mark Paresi, Steven Webster, and Judge Warren Vanlandschoot. Beardsley and Ward accused them of failure to provide reasonable accommodations, interference, retaliation, violation of civil rights, conspiracy to deprive civil rights, assault, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and negligent supervision and training.

A settlement was reached on March 6, 2008, for an undisclosed amount.

See: Beardsley, et al., v. City of North Las Vegas, et al., United States District Court for the District of Nevada, Case No. 2:05-cv-00549 (Mar. 6, 2008).


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