Alves v. Woonsocket (2016)
Category: Civil Rights Discrimination Rights of the Disabled Free Speech Police Practices
A federal civil rights lawsuit filed in partnership with the R.I. Disability Law Center on behalf of a profoundly deaf person who was arrested and detained overnight by Woonsocket police for allegedly making an obscene gesture, and who was never provided an interpreter to allow him to communicate with the police during his detention. The case raised important issues regarding municipal agency obligations to accommodate residents who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The lawsuit argued that city officials violated plaintiff David Alves’s “statutory and constitutional rights by unlawfully arresting and detaining him, charging him with violating an unconstitutional City criminal ordinance, subjecting him to discrimination on account of his disability, and failing to accommodate his disability.”
The suit settled favorably in January 2017.
- Letter to RI Police Chiefs (March 2017)
- Follow up Letter to U.S. Attorney Romero re: Compliance (January 2018)
Related News Releases
- Jan 24, 2018 - Groups Ask U.S. Attorney to Investigate Police Policies Governing Communication with the Deaf
- Mar 31, 2017 - ACLU and RIDLC Call on Police Chiefs to Ensure Compliance with Anti-Discrimination Laws
- Jan 18, 2017 - Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Against Woonsocket Police for Treatment of Deaf Detainee
- Apr 27, 2016 - Woonsocket Police Sued for Unlawful Arrest and Detention of Deaf Person