By KIRO 7 Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne
TACOMA, Wash. —
KIRO TV’s investigative unit has discovered Tacoma police used force to arrest and handcuff an innocent deaf woman after she called 911 for their help.
Instead of an apology, she ended up bloody and in jail for nearly three days without an interpreter before a prosecutor declined to press charges.
After months of digging, investigative reporter Chris Halsne found significant discrepancies in the official police version of events leading up to Lashonn White’s arrest.
Late in the evening on April 6, White said she called for police assistance after a guest reportedly attacked her in her own apartment.
Deaf since birth, White used a special video-equipped phone, connected to a TV and a Web camera, to call 911. A certified American Sign Language interpreter on the other end verbally relayed White’s pleas for help to a Tacoma police dispatcher.
“I said, ‘Please hurry! There’s a person here beating me up,’” White explained to Halsne during a television interview last month.
A recording of White’s 911 call from that evening reveals her urgency.
“Right now! This is serious!”
“She’s fighting at me, then she chokes me. She’s coming right at me!”
Computer-aided dispatch (CAD) logs show Tacoma police officer Ryan Koskovich and his partner, Michael Young, were outside White’s apartment complex in about six minutes.
It also reflects that officers received texts along the way stating, “Person doing the hitting is a Sophia” and “Vict. is Lashonn White.”
In addition, it appears from internal police records obtained by KIRO Team 7 Investigators, Koskovich and his partner were repeatedly given information that the victim could not hear a thing.
On the 911 calls, White herself made it perfectly clear.
“I’m deaf. I can’t hear if they’re out front knocking or whatever … I can’t—are they going to the front or back? Where are the police at?”
Dispatch: “They want her to go outside the front door.”
“Oh, they’re here? Okay, I’m on my way to meet them. I’m going right now.”