A 64-year-old deaf man sustained severe injuries to his face and eyes after he was repeatedly punched by Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers.
The man, Pearl Pearson, fled the scene of a traffic accident, according to police. He was soon pulled over by OHP.
What happened next is in dispute, but according to Pearson, an officer struck him in the face as soon as he rolled down his window. (RELATED: Shock verdict: Cops found not guilty of murder in brutal death of Kelly Thomas)
A police affidavit claims that Pearson disobeyed police orders and resisted arrest. The affidavit does not make clear whether the officers knew he was deaf, however.
“A physical altercation ensued for approximately seven minutes,” according to the affidavit, as reported by The Huffington Post.
A website set up to allow people to donate to Pearson’s defense and medical bills claims that he repeatedly asked law enforcement to provide him with an interpreter. Pearson’s license plate indicates that he is deaf, as does a sign in his driver’s side door, according to the website.
The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety has placed two officers on paid leave while it investigates the allegations against them. A spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Pearson is a friendly, generous person, according to one of his neighbors. She described his encounter with police as a “misunderstanding” that went way too far.
“I know that [the police] do dangerous jobs and they put their lives on the line, but that is over the top,” said neighbor Sacia Law in a statement to local news.