Reported by: Lauren Lea
Published: 9/04/12 – 10:20 pm
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – A deaf couple claims two off-duty Bexar County Sheriff’s deputies handcuffed them and roughed them up as they were shopping inside a west side convenience store. Now the two want to know why it happened in the first place.
Jeffrey Donovan and his girlfriend Mercedes Castellano were shopping inside the Express Mart on Ceralvo, off Zarzamora on Aug. 23 and had only been inside for about two minutes before deputies approached. Surveillance video shows how quickly the deputies came inside and cuffed the couple.
“They were waving at us to come over there and all of a sudden they handcuffed us and were really rough at us,” Donovan said, through an interpreter.
“It really freaked me out because we were trying to tell them, ‘they’re deaf! They’re mute! They can’t speak!’” said a person who was inside the store, who did not want to be identified. “I think it was uncalled for. They were too rough.”
Employees said the deputies were yelling for the couple to put their hands up.
“I don’t understand why they rushed up on us like that. I couldn’t understand what we’d done wrong,” Castellano signed.
The witness said the couple were very frightened. Donovan says they were taken outside where they tried to communicate with the deputies.
“I was trying to explain to him that I couldn’t hear. I was deaf. I tried to explain to him twice. As they uncuffed us, we asked if we could write back and forth. I guess they didn’t want us to write back and forth,” Donovan signed. “As we were standing there, they still refused to talk to us through writing back and forth. Again, we asked and they said no. So we stood there and waited.”
Donovan is also blind in one eye and has a pacemaker. His father said he suffered a sprained shoulder because of the incident.
“As we waited, one police officer wrote down, ‘so you went through the gate and then after that you were running,’” Donovan signed.
He lives across the street at the San Juan Square Apartments. He showed us how they squeezed through the gate to walk across the street to the store. He says they never saw the deputies and after being let go, they never got an explanation.
“I have no reason. We’re deaf. I don’t know,” he signed.
Employees of the store said many people go through or jump over the fence to leave the apartment complex because of locked gates. Donovan’s father and the employees also said the deputies were providing security for the complex.
Donovan and Castellano are now sharing their story, hoping someone will finally give them answers.
“I don’t understand why they did that to us. We’re innocent. We didn’t do anything wrong,” Castellano signed.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office did not want to comment about the incident, but Internal Affairs is investigating.