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.

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