Abreham Zemedagegehu has said he spent part of his six-week stay at the Arlington County Detention Facility in 2014 unaware of the charges against him.

By Sara Moniuszko (Associated Press) |

ARLINGTON, VA (Associated Press/NBC4 Washington)―A deaf man will receive a $250,000 settlement from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office after it failed to provide a sign language interpreter for him while he was jailed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

The man, Abreham Zemedagegehu, has said he spent part of his six-week stay at the Arlington County Detention Facility in 2014 unaware of the charges against him. The Justice Department launched an investigation into Zemedagegehu’s claim last year.

“I felt like I was losing my mind,” Zemedagegehu said through an interpreter in an interview at his lawyer’s office. “I thought Virginia would give me an interpreter and they said no. That’s why I felt lost.”

Abreham Zemedagegehu also said the jail failed provide a communications device to help him communicate with his lawyer and performed medical procedures on him without explaining them or getting his consent.

A native of Ethiopia, he can communicate in American Sign Language but is largely unable to communicate in written English.

Abreham Zemedagegehu sued the sheriff’s office in federal court, saying his treatment failed to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Among the concerns raised in his lawsuit was the jail’s reliance on teletypewriter devices to allow deaf inmates to communicate with people outside the jail.

Continue reading this story on NBC4 Washington
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