The Oklahoma County district attorney opted not to prosecute an elderly deaf Black man for resisting orders he couldn’t hear from state troopers, Fox News affiliate KOKH-TV reports.
District Attorney David Prater‘s motivation, however, was financial. The misdemeanor trial against 66-year-old Pearl Pearson, who needed a special sign language interpreter, would cost at least $40,000, according to the news outlet.
“It is the District Attorney’s responsibility to be a good steward of the taxpayer’s money,” Prater wrote in a court document.
He added: “Though it is important to prosecute matters to promote public safety and assure that the State of Oklahoma’s laws are enforced, the financial burden placed on the state to prosecute a matter is a legitimate consideration; especially as in this case, the matter is a misdemeanor.”
During the 2014 traffic stop, Pearson said he could not hear the troopers’ instructions and tried to communicate that he was hearing impaired.
A video shows them yanking him out of his vehicle. Photographs appear to corroborate his claim that the troopers beat him during the encounter.
The prosecutor charged him with resisting arrest. However, the district attorney cleared the law enforcement officers of criminal wrongdoing.
Taking the case to trial meant that the state would have to foot the bill for a special sign language interpreter. Pearson doesn’t communicate with traditional American Sign Language. He learned to sign during segregation, KOKH-TV explained.