Traffic stop involving deaf man under investigation, OHP troopers suspended
OKLAHOMA CITY – On Jan. 3, court records claim Pearl Pearson fled the scene of a car accident in south Oklahoma City.
An affidavit claims that when Pearson was pulled over along the Easter Ave. exit, just off I-40, he resisted two officers and refused to comply with repeated orders to display his hands.
There was a seven-minute altercation.
It does not say whether the officers were aware that he is hearing impaired.
Late Tuesday Pearl’s attorney, Billy Coyle, says “My client is completely innocent of these allegations. We are waiting on the OHP report and we are sorting through the facts of the case. My client is profoundly deaf and was trying to give officers his specialty license during the stop”.
He says his client, a deaf man, was brutalized at the scene, at the hospital and continued at the jail.
One neighbor said the incident is a misunderstanding by troopers that went too far.
“I know they do dangerous jobs and they put their lives on the line, but that is over the top,” Sacia Law said. “It’s completely unacceptable. Seven minutes of just basically beating someone?”
The OHP said our request for an interview has been forwarded to the proper division for consideration.
NewsChannel 4 received a statement Monday evening regarding Pearson’s arrest.
Lt. Brian Orr, with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said, “We can confirm the arrest and charges were filed for leaving the scene of an accident and resisting arrest. The case went to the Oklahoma County District Attorney and any details of this case will have to come from the DA’s office. We will review the arrest administratively and if it is determined there were violations of department policy, we will take appropriate action.”
NewsChannel 4 learned on Tuesday the two Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers involved, Eric Foster and Kelton Hayes, have been suspended with pay while the investigation into this incident continues.
An OHP spokesman says if the agency determines that there were violations during the arrest, appropriate action will be taken.
Capt. George Brown, spokesman for the OHP, said, “After an internal review of facts surrounding the arrest of Mr. Pearl Pearson, Chief of Patrol, Col. Rick Adams, has directed investigators to expand the focus of their investigation in order to determine if there were any violations of state law. If through the course of this investigation, it is determined there were violations of department policy and/or state law, the appropriate action will be taken. To date, the office of the chief has not received any outside complaint regarding this event. State Troopers Foster and Hayes remain on suspension with pay pending the results of this investigation.”
TSHA is holding a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Pearson in Tulsa on Thursday evening.
Story clarification: It was originally reported the group Total Source for Hearing-loss & Access accused highway patrol troopers of using excessive force during a traffic stop involving Pearl Pearson. That group did not make that statement.
The website pearlpearson.com does make the claim, “Pearson was pulled over and rolled down his window, expecting an officer to ask for this identification. An officer struck him in the face before Pearl had the chance to do anything.”
That site is not affiliated with TSHA.
The group (TSHA) says it is supporting Mr. Pearson after he was injured due to his inability to communicate with the police. They will not take a position on whether excessive force was used until the internal investigation is complete.
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