A Hearing-impaired Washington woman who was pulled over for allegedly using her cell phone while driving had a difficult time explaining to the officer that she couldn’t understand his commands.
Part of the reason for that, it seems, was that the cop didn’t bother listening to 36 year-old Megan Graham, who also suffers from a cognitive disorder, as she tried to tell him that she is disabled.
According to Graham, she got out of her car at her destination – the apartment of a friend whose pet she was caring for – and suddenly realized that a police cruiser was pulled in behind her car with its lights flashing. So she approached Federal Way, Wash. police officer Justin Anholt, who hadn’t yet left the seat of his police cruiser and was barking orders from inside the vehicle.
What she didn’t know was that Anholt was telling her to get back into her car. Being hearing impaired and all, she kept approaching him to explain her disabilities. The cop was having none of it, allegedly grabbing Graham’s wrist and pulling it behind her.
“I pulled my arm back, grabbed my phone and called 911 to call for help,” she told KIRO TV. “I told the officer I had mental and hearing disabilities, and didn’t understand why he was trying to hurt me.”
The recording of the 911 call indeed reveals Graham telling the officer, “You attacked me before you said anything! There is no point whatsoever for you to touch me like that, especially with my condition, so how dare you even touch me?”
As that was going on, with Graham still on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, another unnamed cop responding to the call escalated things by punching Graham several times in the face. Graham was left with a black eye and some very nasty bruises on the left side of her face.
Police have charged her with felony assault to a police officer.
“That woman was not resisting, I saw it,” said Graham’s friend Deborah Fenwick, who witnessed the encounter. “That woman doesn’t have a violent bone in her body. She’s got a heart of gold. If she would have understood the officer’s commands in the first place, she would have absolutely complied with him.”