A deaf man spent four months in jail after a traffic stop. He’s suing the officers who arrested him. Brady Mistic was arrested in September 2019 in Idaho Springs, Colorado, the Colorado Sun reports. The officers who pulled him over say he rolled through a stop sign. Mistic says he didn’t know why he was being pulled over. He got out of his car and tried to use American Sign Language to communicate that he was deaf, but the officers, Nicholas Hanning, who has since been fired, and Ellie Summers, who still works for the department, didn't understand and handcuffed him. Hanning was fired after an incident in May in which he injured a 75-year-old grandfather by using a Taser on him without warning. Summers was present at that call, too.
Mistic says he was thrown to the ground and stunned with a Taser. Since he was handcuffed, he said some of the only words he could vocalize—“no ears”—but Summers stunned him a second time. Mistic’s civil rights lawsuit claims that Hanning and Summers used unnecessary force in his arrest, and that the city of Idaho Springs wrongfully incarcerated him. The lawsuit claims that when EMS personnel arrived after the arrest, Summers told them Mistic was deaf. But he was still handcuffed and unable to use his hands to sign or write. The lawsuit also says the officers tacked on inflated charges—saying that Mistic resisted arrest, assaulted Hanning, and that the play money in his wallet was forged currency. Mistic was in jail for four months and says he was denied an interpreter or other means to communicate with an attorney or a bail bondsmen, or even a notepad and pen to communicate at all much of the time.
In a statement, the Idaho Springs Police Department said Mistic injured Hanning, a claim Mistic denies by saying the officer injured himself. It also says Hanning and Summers didn’t know he was deaf. It acknowledges he was detained and says all the charges against Mistic were dropped after he agreed to complete a diversion program. Mistic said that at other times he's been able to easily communicate the fact of his deafness during traffic stops by covering his hears and shaking his head “no” or miming the act of writing, the Washington Post reports. (Read more police brutality stories.)