Hearing impaired residents of Tampa, Florida, who tuned in to watch their police department’s press conference about alleged serial killer Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, were unable to figure out what in the world was going on because the sign language interpreter in the background kept making bizarre hand gestures.
Tampa Police Department held a briefing to inform public about the arrest of the 24-year-old, accused of committing four terrifying murders. However, the interpreter failed to convey anything about the proceedings, as she was busy waving her arms around.
"She sat up there and waved her arms like she was singing 'Jingle Bells,'” Rachelle Settambrino, who is deaf and teaches ASL at the University of South Florida, told Tampa Bay Times. “I was disappointed, confused, upset and really want to know why the city of Tampa’s chief of police, who is responsible for my safety and the safety of the entire community, did not check her out.”
The police department identified the interpreter as Derlyn Roberts.
“We did not request an interpreter for a news conference on the 28th,” stated police department’s spokesperson Janelle McGregor said, adding they are conducting an internal review to determine “who sent this particular interpreter to the news conference to provide services.”
According to Settambrino, this is among the things Roberts signed during the press conference:
“Fifty-one hours ago, zero 12 22 (indecipherable) murder three minutes in 14 weeks ago in old (indecipherable) murder four five 55,000 plea 10 arrest murder bush (indecipherable) three age 24.”
At the time, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan was explaining the murders’ timelines and receiving about 5,000 tips before detaining Donaldson.
Since Florida does not require American Sign Language interpreters to be certified through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, this is not the first time an interpreter has made headlines for signing gibberish during a live press conference.
Earlier this year, an unqualified interpreter identified as Marshall Greene, a lifeguard working for Florida’s hurricane Irma-ravaged Manatee County, began signing about pizza and monster bears during briefing about weather updates.
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