This story has a lot of components to it, which is why I’m including it here.

A while back I was sitting in the victim-witness room at my court filling out paperwork. I overheard an attorney, who I admire greatly, talking with a defendant who was deaf. This was just after her eviction hearing. After speaking with the defendant this attorney sought me out. He asked me if I would pay particular attention to helping this woman through the eviction process. Even before he and I spoke, after having overheard their conversation, I had already decided that I would try and help her.

On the day of the eviction, I went through my normal litany of the procedure, which included telling the maintenance man exactly where to stand before I knocked on the door.

The architect in me pays attention to the sightlines of the maintenance person so they can be a good witness in case something happens.

Hardly anything ever does happen, but every now and then it does.

Now, for those who have experience with the deaf, I want you to know I understand the challenges they face in life. I had a girlfriend in high school who was an interpreter for the deaf, so I had some experience there. We also did a training scenario once that involved evicting a deaf person.

The deaf woman came to the door, and I proceeded to explain to her that we were going to be locking the doors. She was frustrated and agitated. As I write this now, I realize that our limited ability to communicate added to her frustration.

In utter exasperation, she closed the door on me! My knee-jerk reaction when that happens is to put my foot into the door, which I did. Her knee jerk reaction was to punch me in the side, and to push me away from the door, where we struggled briefly! I had to be careful, as we were on a second-story balcony!

While struggling with this woman, I looked over my shoulder at the maintenance man and yelled, “Call 911!”

I stood my ground and made sure the door stayed open. The woman I was evicting grabbed her purse and keys before she took off. I followed her down the stairs, grabbed the phone from the maintenance man, and continued the conversation with the 911 operator. I followed her to the parking lot to see which direction she traveled as she left, giving PD her license plate number.

The maintenance man had done an excellent job with the 911 operator. Help was already on its way. The first officer that arrived was a gentleman that I’d known a long time; an excellent public servant!

I heard the play-by-play as everything unfolded over the radio. Inexplicably, she stopped at a Little Caesars Pizza to pick up a pizza to go, and go she did. She got on the 202, and then the 101 and proceeded to drive at a high rate of speed. DPS was following her with a helicopter above but decided to back off as she was behaving so erratically. An undercover vehicle continued to follow her until she relaxed and lowered her speed.

When she was finally pulled over it was determined that her vehicle was neither currently registered, nor did she have insurance. She had also just committed felony assault when she punched me at the door. The officer and I talked it over and decided not to pursue assault charges. She was already in a lot of hot water, so I didn’t have the heart to add to her woes. Besides, I wasn’t injured, so I thought, no harm, no foul!

Can you imagine being evicted, committing felony assault, and having your vehicle impounded all within an hour? Believe it or not, I actually have another story similar to that, only, in that case, everything happened in less time!

The maintenance man was shaking like a leaf afterward. We had done about 40 evictions previous to this. I’d always told him where to stand so he could keep an eye on me. The first thing he said to me afterward was, “Now I know why you tell me where to stand.”

 

– Ed Malles