A deaf Black woman was handcuffed after not being able to communicate with Las Vegas police, FOX5 reports. According to the outlet, Andrea “Dre” Hollingsworth was driving with her two 11-year-old twin daughters when officers with the North Las Vegas Police Department pulled her over.
Hollingsworth live-streamed the interaction, which showed the officers ordering her and her daughters to exit the car. Due to COVID-19 protocols, the officers were wearing masks and Hollingsworth could not understand them as she was unable to read their lips.
“I don’t know, I’m being pulled over and he is interrogating me… I am Black, I am deaf, George Floyd just happened,” Hollingsworth recalled to FOX5 via a sign language interpreter. “The police officer pulled my arm… and I was like, ‘Whoa, why?’ I have never experienced anything like that in my life.”
Hollingsworth said she was in the area to pick up rent money from her landlord after moving out early. However, police say the landlord called 911.
“She is just here because she needs her money back from her friend,” one of Hollingsworth’s daughters explained to the cop.
In the video, the officer could then be seen forcing Hollingsworth to sit on the ground as her daughters scream. He then handcuffed her, making it impossible for her to sign. The officer also ordered Hollingsworth’s daughters to interpret for their mother and “talk some sense into her,” which a deaf rights lawyer told FOX5 is illegal.
“Requiring an 11-year-old to interpret in a police situation is against the Americans with Disabilities Act,” attorney Andrew Rozynski told the outlet. “There are regulations in there that expressly prohibit children from being used as interpreters.”
Rozynski added that many police departments have 24-hour interpreter services that include sign language and said Hollingsworth’s children shouldn’t have been put in that situation.
“There are services out there such as video relay, in which someone can bring up an interpreter on an iPhone or iPad,” he explained.
Hollingsworth said her daughters were traumatized by the incident.
“I never thought this would happen to me because I am not a criminal,” she said. “My kids are afraid because of all the incidents that have been happening recently. They are raised Black in this community, so when they see a police officer, they are also on high alert.”
“I really want all of Las Vegas police to change because it is really scary how deaf people are treated,” she added. “If my kids weren’t with me, then I would have died that day. My kids saved my life.”
In a statement, the NLVPD said they are investigating the incident and claimed Hollingsworth “initially refused to comply with requests.”
“This department will make every effort to see that its employees communicate effectively with people who have identified themselves as deaf or hard of hearing,” they added.
See video of the incident below.