Slain Woman and Toddlers & NYPD's Failure to Protect Her/Translate Domestic-Incident Reports for Non-English Speakers
The NYPD failed Guatemalan-born Queens, N.Y. woman Deisy Garcia and her two children, who were slaughtered by Miguel Mejia-Ramos, Garcia's husband.
Months prior to her death, Garcia filed a police report explaining to the authorities that she feared for her life; and months later she would make a similar phone call. She reiterated details about her violent home life in her native Spanish, but because the domestic-incident report was never translated to English it was overlooked.
The 21-year-old called the police on May 30 of 2013, and described her husband's assault on her. She also filed a second report on November 28th, yet the police remained disengaged -and failed to translate both reports at the 103rd Precinct in Queens, where Garcia lived. In both reports, Garcia shared her fear of her 28-year-old husband, convinced that she and her two children would be murdered.
On Jan. 18, Mejia-Ramos returned home at 2 a.m. after evening spent drinking with a friend, and attacked his wife as she slept, repeatedly plunging a knife into her body. Then, he turned the weapon on his two daughters -- Danielle, 3, and Yoselin, 1 -- murdering them because he didn't have car seats to take them along with him.
Mejia-Ramos launched the attack because he supposedly found an image of Garcia and another man on Facebook, when looking through her cellphone.
Garcia and her slain family was discovered by her uncle on Sunday night in the Sutphin Avenue apartment. The young mother was found on the floor of one bedroom, while the two girls' bodies were on a bed in another room. The bloody knives lay beside the heavily-stabbed bodies. Uncle Ramon Chuc, 37, reportedly wept as he recalled walking into the bloody scene with his two sons, ages 12 and 10. They had been play soccer outside and returned to the house.
"Then, my 12-year-old son, Rene, went inside the room and saw my niece on the floor," said a sobbing Chuc. "After that, I . . . saw the two babies are covered with a blanket. I take it off and see them."
Garcia's mother and brother also shared their thoughts and feelings of grief:
"I'm in so much pain," Garcia's mother, Luzmina Alvarado, told the Post. "I'm not sure how to go on. I know she contacted [the police] and told them he kicked her and abused her, but the police told her they needed to see proof of the abuse. They told her there was no evidence and left it at that. I told the cops, 'Now that my daughter is dead, you're hunting for this man like dogs, but if you did more earlier-if you had listened to my daughter-she might be alive today."
"When someone comes to them with a problem but only speaks Spanish, find someone who speaks Spanish," Garcia's 19-year-old brother, José said. "They're supposed to help us no matter who we are. My sister and her kids might still be alive if they had done their jobs."
Mejia-Ramos, an undocumented immigrant, was captured by a team of U.S. marshals and Texas state troopers in Schulenburg, Texas after two days. He was attempting to make his way back to his native Mexico in a white van, which was stolen and had a New York license plate.
Authorities were able to triangulate Mejia-Ramos's location by tracking his cellphone, which he used several times, contacting associates in Mexico during his furious drive from New York to Texas. Police snared the criminal at a roadblock at 10 p.m. on Monday, about 60 miles west of Houston.
"Fortunately, we got him before he made his way across the border to Mexico," said a source. "If we hadn't, it would have taken a long time -- several years -- to get him back to the United States, and he could have disappeared and gotten away with it."
When arrested, Mejias-Ramos appeared to have self-inflicted stab wounds on his neck, which could have been made by plastic utensils, according to sources.
Mejia-Ramos has been 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.
The New York Post reported that all reports made in foreign languages were to be translated into English, yet that wasn't the case for case for Garcia. An internal review into the failure to translate domestic incident reports has led to the NYPD being instructed on how to translate and store domestic incident reports.
"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.
New York Police Department seldom provides translation for non-English speakers, which was indicated in a lawsuit filed last May by Legal Services NYC that accuses the NYPD of neglect and mistreating non-English-speaking NYC residents. The police records indicate that 911 operators used a translation service to interpret 7,000 calls last November, while translation services were only used 32 times in the same month in the field. Garcia and her daughter's death have renewed interest in the Legal Service NYC lawsuit.
"To be fair, some number of police officers are bilingual, but that really can't account for such a wide discrepancy [between translated 911 calls and translation requested by police officers]," Edward Josephson, director of litigation at Legal Services NYC told BuzzFeed. He also said that some officers would tell non-English-speaking people "this is America, speak English."
The NYPD's laziness and lack of forethought is unfortunate, and the discrimination is visible to anyone looking at how non-English-speakers' needs are often thrust into the shadows.
"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.
In a prepared statement, the city's law department 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. The Department works with Berlitz and Geneva language experts to test and certify officers' language proficiency -- more than 1,200 interpreters are certified."
In the future, the department may look to acquire computer software that will automatically translate the reports.
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