Deaf Man Beaten by Oklahoma Highway Patrol

Yesterday in California we learned that it’s perfectly legal for police officers to beat mentally ill homeless people to death. Yep, thanks to a jury in the Kelly Thomas case in Fullerton, it seems that all rights are reserved for people with addresses. In Oklahoma, thanks to the reporting of KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, we know that there’s an investigation into the allegations of police brutality and use of excessive force against 65-year-old Pearl Pearson who happens to be deaf.

OKLAHOMA CITY – On Jan. 3, court records claim Pearl Pearson fled the scene of a car accident in south Oklahoma City.


An affidavit claims that when Pearson was pulled over along the Easter Ave. exit, just off I-40, he resisted two officers and refused to comply with repeated orders to display his hands.


There was a seven-minute altercation.


It does not say whether the officers were aware that he is hearing impaired.


Late Tuesday Pearl’s attorney, Billy Coyle, says “My client is completely innocent of these allegations. We are waiting on the OHP report and we are sorting through the facts of the case. My client is profoundly deaf and was trying to give officers his specialty license during the stop”.


He says his client, a deaf man, was brutalized at the scene, at the hospital and continued at the jail.


[…] NewsChannel 4 received a statement Monday evening regarding Pearson’s arrest.


Lt. Brian Orr, with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said, “We can confirm the arrest and charges were filed for leaving the scene of an accident and resisting arrest. The case went to the Oklahoma County District Attorney and any details of this case will have to come from the DA’s office. We will review the arrest administratively and if it is determined there were violations of department policy, we will take appropriate action.”


NewsChannel 4 learned on Tuesday the two Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers involved, Eric Foster and Kelton Hayes, have been suspended with pay while the investigation into this incident continues.


An OHP spokesman says if the agency determines that there were violations during the arrest, appropriate action will be taken.


Capt. George Brown, spokesman for the OHP, said, “After an internal review of facts surrounding the arrest of Mr. Pearl Pearson, Chief of Patrol, Col. Rick Adams, has directed investigators to expand the focus of their investigation in order to determine if there were any violations of state law. If through the course of this investigation, it is determined there were violations of department policy and/or state law, the appropriate action will be taken. To date, the office of the chief has not received any outside complaint regarding this event. State Troopers Foster and Hayes remain on suspension with pay pending the results of this investigation.”

Yep, the ole “resisting arrest” line that’s always used to justify the occasional beatdown at the hands of the police. So what if this guy was deaf and couldn’t understand what they were saying. Though it has yet to be determined, from the looks of it, being deaf — much like it is for homeless mentally ill people — is enough of a justification for getting your ass stomped when encountering the police if you’re suspected of a crime. But hey, deaf or not, I guess being black was the real threat here.

Pearl Pearson

I don’t know what’s in the air, but it looks like black folks travelling out west are having a hard time with state troopers. Of course I know this isn’t a phenomenon exclusive to America’s west. But, after the Oriana Ferrell story which involved a New Mexico state trooper opening fire on a minivan full of kids after a traffic stop recently, if I were Kanye West, I’d be compelled to say something like, “State Troopers out west don’t like black people.” I’m not sure if this is a common occurrence for the hearing impaired, but again, race may have been the motivating factor for the beatdown Pearson caught.

As a legally blind person with a disability, what happened to Pearson makes me furious. As tough as it is to navigate everyday spaces with a disability, the last thing ome wpould expect is to have one’s disability work against them when encountering the police. If by chance you’re like me and you’d like to help Pearson in his legal defense, you can visit the website to find out more information about upcoming fundraisers. I’m sure Pearl Pearson appreciates all the help he can get.