Austin police say deaf woman attacked in broad daylight
Jenni Lee, KVUE
July 21, 2015
AUSTIN — Austin Police are looking for four teenagers, three males and one female, who they say followed, punched, and stole a deaf woman’s purse Monday afternoon in North Austin.
Police said the woman was walking on Redlands Street in the Brentwood neighborhood around 1:20 p.m. Monday when she noticed a Hispanic teen wearing a bandana over his face following her. She told police she kept an eye on the teen because of the covered face.
The teen stopped to talk to a car and the victim lost sight of him. Police said shortly afterward, the same teen and three others in a tan four-door sedan cut off the victim.
“At that time, the same suspect displayed a knife. Then she was struck and punched to the ground and fell to the ground and the Hispanic female stole her purse,” said Austin Police Robbery Sgt. Will White.
White said the teens took off in the same car. That’s when Joanna Fried heard banging on her door.
“She was banging on my door and pushing to get it which was scary…Frantic, like really really crying. There was blood on her hands and her face was swollen and she realized she scratched up on her leg and it was really hard to understand what she was saying,” Fried said.
Fried said she then called 911 and kept the victim at her house until EMS and police arrived. Fried said she called the victim’s ex-husband and explained what happened.
Russell West, director of support operations at the Texas School for the Deaf, said anytime a member of the deaf community is the victim of a crime; they often don’t know their rights. Through an interpreter, West said deaf victims need to ask for interpreters.
“Some of the hearing people think that, ‘Well we can just write back and forth,’ but the language is different and that’s one of the things that needs to be kept in mind,” West said.
Police said the victim was not targeted because she was deaf. But they do want to warn the public that a lot of their robbery cases involve victims not paying attention.
“They’re playing on their cell phones…talking on the phone, reading texts, sending texts. That’s when a lot of these robberies tend to happen,” Sgt. White said.
Police remind residents that if you see anyone following you, especially with their face covered, call 911 immediately.
The four teens are still at large. If they are caught, they face an aggravated robbery charge, which is punishable up to 20 years in prison.