Published February 18, 2014
The death of a Guatemalan woman and her two children who filed two Spanish-language reports with the New York Police Department that were not translated is the most recent incident in a long line of apparent failed translated reports filed with the police department, a federal court suit claims.
The NY Post reported that a lawsuit filed against the city last year by six Hispanic women and the Violence Intervention Program alleges that the NYPD illegally discriminated against non-English speakers by failing to provide them with translation services during investigations of domestic disputes.
Police said on Jan. 18, Garcia’s husband, Miguel Mejia-Ramos, 29, allegedly stabbed his family to death in their Queens apartment.
“Unfortunately, we’re not surprised that something like this happened, because we know that victims of domestic violence, when they’re not able to speak English, are not able to get the protection that they need,” said lawyer Eduard Josephson, who's representing the plaintiffs in the suit against the city.
Garcia’s mother, Luzmina Alvarado said she, too, is considering suing the city over the death of her daughters and grandchildren. She told The Post that when she went to her local police station to get a copy of her daughter’s police report, she had to ask “a woman off the street” to translate it for her.
“A woman at the precinct said, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t understand. I can’t help you,’” Alvarado said. “I can only imagine what my poor daughter had to go through.”
According to the lawsuit, a Mexican immigrant, Alret Macareno, claimed cops ignored her repeated requests for an interpreter after her husband pushed her down a flight of stairs in 2012. Macareno alleges that one cop told her to “shut your mouth” and then arrested her when she didn’t.
The city is trying to have the suit tossed.
A spokeswoman for NYPD told The Post that “as result of an internal review,” police officers were “verbally instructed” on its policy regarding translations of domestic-abuse complaints.
“A memo will be transmitted to all commands informing all domestic-violence officers to locate a member of the command who possess the necessary language skills to translate a victim’s statement in English,” the spokeswoman said.