Tags: fake sign language | interpreter | tampa | police

Press Conference on Serial Killing Arrest Had Fake Sign Language Interpreter

(CBS News/YouTube)

By    |   Monday, 04 December 2017 10:00 PM

Viewers of a recent press conference in which Tampa, Florida police announced the arrest of a suspect in a string of killings had trouble understanding what was being said if they were relying on the woman who was supposed to be relaying the information in sign language.

The interpreter, police say, was a fake.

"She sat up there and waved her arms like she was singing Jingle Bells," Rachelle Settambrino, who teaches American Sign Language at the University of South Florida, told the 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," Settambrino said.

The woman, who police have identified as 53-year-old Derlyn Roberts, was not hired through the usual service the depart uses, but instead showed up and volunteered her services. She stood next to Police Chief Brian Dugan as he gave information during the press conference.

"From what I understand, she knows enough about sign language that she was able to fake it, TPD spokesman Steve Hegarty told the Associated Press. "But it was not accurate, and it was not clear, and that's a disservice to the deaf community.

At one point, according to Settambrino, Roberts signed:

"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."

According the Times, Dugan actually was laying out the timeline of four murders and how the department had received more than 5,000 tips before it arrested the 24-year-old suspect.

Florida does not require licensing of sign language interpreters, though they are supposed to be "qualified."

"But what is that definition of qualified?" Settambrino asked.

The incident brought up memories of another unqualified interpreter who warned of "pizza" and a "bear monster" during Hurricane Irma press conferences in September in Manatee County.

Tampa police have since discovered that Roberts has a history of showing up at events such as funerals and providing her version of interpreting.

She also has a criminal history dating back to 2005 on charges including organized fraud and false imprisonment as well as several aliases, according to the AP.

She isn't expected to be charged with a crime for false sign language.

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Viewers of a recent press conference in which Tampa, Florida police announced the arrest of a suspect in a string of killings had trouble understanding what was being said if they were relying on the woman who was supposed to be relaying the information in sign language.The...
fake sign language, interpreter, tampa, police
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2017-00-04
Monday, 04 December 2017 10:00 PM
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