We often use “jaywalking” as part of the joke, an offense so trivial as to serve as the perfect juxtaposition for police excesses. But Hui Jie Jin is alleged to have jaywalked, and Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Phillip Corvello didn’t get the joke at all. Turns out he was all intersectional, and wasn’t about to let Jin get away with it.
A deaf 76-year-old woman accused an Alameda County Sheriff’s Office deputy of excessive force during an alleged jaywalking incident last year, claiming the deputy “violently threw” her to the ground and handcuffed her to an ambulance while she was unconscious.
It wasn’t merely her jaywalking that gave rise to Corvello’s outrage. It was her failure to do as he commanded, a cardinal sin.
Jin and Corvello encountered each other on the morning of July 21, 2017, when Jin was out shopping for groceries. The lawsuit claims that Corvello began yelling at Jin while she was allegedly jaywalking, but because Jin is “profoundly deaf” she couldn’t hear or understand his commands.
As Corvello moved closer to her, the suit alleges, Jin pointed to her ear with one hand and waved her hand back and forth with the other to signal that she was deaf.
The more typical scenario is the perp suffering from some condition about which the cop knows nothing. It’s not that the cop couldn’t find out, but that they assume normalcy and, well, can’t be bothered taking the risk of knowledge when ignorance better serves their needs.
Except here, Jin, her threatening groceries in hand (who knows what weapons might be concealed below the greens?) had the opportunity to let Corvello know that she was deaf. She pointed to her ear. She waved. Even if Corvello was of average intelligence and denseness, it was fairly clear she was trying to make a point, some point, about her hearing.
More officers arrived on the scene and performed a search of Jin and her grocery bags, according to court documents, and during this time Jin emptied her pockets to hand Corvello her California identification card, disabled senior citizen bus pass, and a handwritten card with the name and phone number of Jin’s daughter for emergencies.
At this point, Corvello and his backup for this jaywalking old woman could be fairly certain that there was no AK hiding in the grocery bag, that Jin presented no threat of imminent death to him, and at least one of them should have had the ability to grasp from her disabled senior citizen bus pass that she was disabled and a senior citizen, if those two things were still in doubt.
Jin prayed and repeatedly bowed in front of Corvello “in order to beg … for mercy and not to hurt her.”
In response, the suit alleges, Corvello slammed the woman to the ground, placed a foot or knee behind her neck or back and handcuffed her.
Jin was at the intersection of old, female,  POC and disabled. Corvello was more concerned with the intersection of his knee on her back to force her against the pavement. Jin passed out and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
Jin was issued a citation for jaywalking and resisting arrest, but no paperwork exists and no charges were filed, the suit states.
The absence of charges attest to the discretion of Alameda County, finally appreciating perhaps that her bowing wasn’t the “aggressive stance” that ordinarily accompanies the excuse for excessive force, but then, that doesn’t mean the force was excessive, either.
Nate Schmidt, a Dublin police captain, confirmed that the department conducted an internal investigation after the incident and found Corvello’s use of force to be within policy.
The department’s policy does not count jaywalking as an arrestable offense, Schmidt said, but “there was more than an arrest for jaywalking. Not obeying a lawful order is an arrestable offense, so that’s what we were looking at.”
Indeed, it doesn’t matter if Jin was, in fact, committing the heinous crime of jaywalking, but merely that Corvello had reasonable suspicion to believe that she was. Nor, obviously, does it matter that obeying his “lawful order” to . . . do something was an impossibility because she was deaf?
As trivial as the offense of jaywalking may be, the offense of not obeying while deaf is one that cops find intolerable. It’s almost as if you don’t respect their authority, which cannot be tolerated if they’re to protect us from jaywalkers.
But as much as Corvello may have been infuriated by Jin’s perceived disrespect, her bowing aside, the whole ear-pointing thing should have been more than sufficient to alert him to the fact that she couldn’t comply with a command she can’t hear, who throws a 76-year-old woman to the ground, then does the knee to the back, putting his full weight on her, to emphasize his point?
That would be the very intersectional Alameda Sheriff’s Deputy Phillip Corvello. That’s who.
(If anybody can locate a pic of brave Deputy Corvello, please let me know. The people of Alameda County deserve to see the visage of their intersectional protector.)