After Deisy Garcia filed a domestic-abuse report last May in her native language, Spanish, it was never translated into English for review, New York City Police said according to CNN.
But that wasn’t the only time the Queens, N.Y. mother of two sought help from authorities. She filed two reports concerning her husband’s violence and threats last November, at least one of them in Spanish.
On Jan. 17, Garcia and her daughters, Daniela, 2, and Yoselin, 1, were found stabbed to death in their apartment, allegedly by Garcia’s husband and the girls’ father, Miguel Mejia-Ramos.
And there’s no explanation from the NYPD why English translation didn’t occur or why action apparently wasn’t taken.
“I knew about the police report, and I knew about the police showing up at the house previously on one of the times where Deisy had called the police because she had been the victim of domestic violence,” Roger Asmar, an attorney hired by Garcia’s family, told CNN. “But we did not know that every time Deisy filled out a report — every time she went to the precinct or the cops came to the house — no one actually translated the text into English, so, apparently no one looked into it.
“No one translated it and they just put it away or placed it into the system … three complaints were filed by Deisy, and none of the times she filed a complaint did police actually arrest Mr. Mejia, her ex-husband.” (TheBlaze confirmed Thursday with the Queens, N.Y. district attorney’s office that Mejia was, in fact, Garcia’s husband, not ex-husband.)
Garcia’s family says that had police responded more proactively, she might still be alive.
“If they would have given it more importance, would have translated it to English, then maybe they (police) would have figured out what to do, they would have investigated him, been more on top of the case, what was happening with them,” Luzmina Alvarado, Garcia’s mother, told CNN. “If the police had done something, this tragedy could have been avoided — my daughter would be alive.”
In statements to police following his arrest, Mejia-Ramos, 28, allegedly said he’d been drinking on the night of January 18, arrived home, went through Garcia’s phone and Facebook account, saw a photo of her with another man and “snapped,” noted the Queen’s district attorney’s office.
Mejia-Ramos reportedly used two knives to stab Garcia multiple times before giving his daughters each a hug and a kiss, asking forgiveness, then stabbing them both multiple times.
On May 30, Garcia filed a police report in Spanish saying she feared her husband would kill her and their two daughters. CNN said it obtained copies of similar reports dated November 27 and 28 from Garcia’s family, who found them among Deisy Garcia’s belongings after her death.
In the November 27, police apparently responded to a call from Garcia, who reported in Spanish that her husband threatened to kill her: “…at about 2:40 am my husband came home and assaulted me, he pulled my hair and kicked me twice, then grabbed my phone. After he did that, I called the police, but he changed and ran out taking a phone that is not mine with him. Today in the morning, he was threatening me that he would take away my daughters.”
About two months before Garcia filed her domestic-abuse report in May, a group focused on “limited English proficient” domestic-violence victims filed a lawsuit against the New York City on behalf of six other Latina women, alleging the NYPD denies interpreters to those with limited English-speaking ability, in effect depriving “them of access to NYPD services.”
“Not only does the NYPD fail to provide language assistance, it also degrades, ridicules and otherwise mistreats limited English proficient individuals who request interpreter services, actively demeaning them for their lack of English proficiency,” according to the lawsuit filed by the Violence Intervention Program, CNN noted.
The NYPD directed CNN’s inquiries regarding the lawsuit to the New York City Law Department, which said: “The NYPD has more foreign-language-speaking officers than any police department in the country, including thousands of Spanish-speaking officers. Also, the NYPD has a corps of 19,000 members of the service who can provide interpretation services in over 70 languages.”
After the slayings, Mejia-Ramos attempted to enter Mexico but was arrested Jan. 21 in Schulenburg, Texas, near the border, and was returned to New York. Mejia-Ramos allegedly told police he killed his daughters because he didn’t have car seats for them, CBS News reported.
He’s charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted on the murder charge, according to the district attorney’s office.
Due to an internal review into the failure to translate domestic incident reports, the NYPD is verbally instructing officers how to translate and store domestic incident reports in languages other than English.
“A memo will be transmitted to all commands informing domestic violence officers to immediately locate a member of the command who possesses the necessary language skills to translate a victim’s written statement to English,” NYPD Detective Cheryl Crispin told CNN.
That’s not likely enough for Garcia’s family.
“We’re thinking maybe we sue the police because this wasn’t just his (Mejia-Ramos’) fault, the authorities are also at fault,” Garcia’s mother told CNN.
“My daughter may be dead and can’t do anything in this case, but I want justice.”
TheBlaze just reported the accusations against medical facilities that allegedly failed to provide a sign-language interpreter for a deaf man who eventually died of cancer.
According to the New York Post, the family of 82-year-old Alfred Weinrib claims three Long Island medical facilities refused to provide with a sign-language interpreter for the seven months he was stricken with cancer.