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November 28, 2002

Deaf Woman Claims Authorities Pepper-Sprayed Her, Denied Interpreter

From: KNBC-TV, CA - 28 Nov 2002

LOS ANGELES -- A deaf woman who claims she was pepper-sprayed and denied an interpreter during her arrest has sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for federal civil rights violations.

Thelma Valenzuela alleges deputies answering a complaint of noise at her parents' South Gate home last November twisted her arm and pepper-sprayed her in the face.

She claims the deputies did not try to communicate through notes or obtain a sign language interpreter during an interrogation.

The Sheriff's Department declined to comment on the suit.

Valenzuela was charged with battery and resisting a peace officer, then was fined and ordered to perform community service.

Her suit seeks unspecified damages and an order requiring the Sheriff's Department to adopt policies that comply with federal disability rights law.

Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.