Say What? Police Don’t Know Who Invited This Terrible ASL Interpreter to Their News Conference

Tampa Bay Times video screenshot
Tampa Bay Times video screenshot

Tampa Bay, Fla., police are still trying to figure out how an American Sign Language interpreter they didn’t even invite managed to derail a press conference about a suspected serial killer in Florida last week.


The interpreter, identified by the police as Derlyn Roberts, delivered a completely incoherent translation that left deaf and hearing-impaired Florida residents confused and upset.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, during their Nov. 28 press conference, the police were giving a timeline of the serial murders and talking about the 5,000 tips the police received before arresting 24-year-old Howell Emanuel Donaldson III. But according to Rachelle Settambrino, who teaches sign language at the University of South Florida, if you were hearing-impaired and relying on Roberts, this is what you were told Tampa Bay police said:

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.”

Settambrino, who is deaf, told the Tampa Bay Times that Roberts “waved her arms like she was singing Jingle Bells.” Settambrino also expressed that she was disappointed and upset that “Tampa’s chief of police who is responsible for my safety and the safety of the entire community did not check her out.”

Even more bizarre than Roberts’ interpretation is the fact that Tampa police don’t quite know where she came from—they didn’t request an interpreter for that news conference, they say. A spokesperson for the department told the Tampa Bay Times that police are conducting an internal review to find out who sent Roberts.

As the New York Daily News notes, this isn’t the first time a Florida press conference has gone to absolute hell thanks to a terrible ASL interpreter.

Rather than receive word on important Hurricane Irma evacuation and shelter information, the hearing-impaired residents of Manatee County, Fla., were told “pizza want you are,” “PP eat medicine for ADA” and that they should “be bear monster.”


Read more at the Tampa Bay Times and the New York Daily News.

Staff writer, The Root.


Stephen A. Crockett Jr.

Her sign for “murdered” is the same sign I give to my friends for “it’s going down!”