OKLAHOMA CITY — Prosecutors have dropped charges against a deaf man who was allegedly roughed up by cops during a traffic stop after he couldn’t understand their orders.
Pearl Pearson, 66, said he had tried to inform the two Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers that he was deaf and can only communicate through sign language. His lawyers said his car has a placard in the window stating that the driver is deaf and that Pearson’s license also notes it.
In court documents, police accused Pearson of resisting arrest. Video from the police stop showed the officers yelling at Pearson and yanking him out of his vehicle. Mugshots taken that day showed Pearson with swelling around his eyes and bruising to his face.
The officers initially were suspended by the department but prosecutors opted not to charge them. Instead, they filed misdemeanor charges against Pearson for resisting arrest.
In the end, prosecutors decided the cost of providing Pearson with interpreters for the trial, which was slated to begin next week, outweighed the “public interest.”
“It is the District Attorney’s responsibility to be a good steward of the taxpayer’s money,” District Attorney David Prater wrote in court filings. “Though it is important to prosecute matters to promote public safety and assure that the State of Oklahoma’s laws are enforced, the financial burden placed on the State to prosecute a matter is a legitimate consideration; especially as in this case, the matter is a misdemeanor.”
Prater had estimated the cost of the trial could exceed $40,000.