Fake sign language interpreter delivers nonsense at Police announcement.


Hearing-impaired people tuning in to a news conference about the arrest of a suspected serial killer got a message of gibberish from an American Sign Language interpreter.

As Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan announced the arrest of Howell Donaldson Wednesday night, interpreter Derlyn Roberts was there beside him, making signs that made no sense.

“She sat up there and waved her arms like she was singing Jingle Bells,” Rachell Settambrino, who is deaf and teaches American Sign Language at the University of South Florida, told the Tampa Bay Times through an interpreter.




Among the things Roberts signed, according to Settambrino, was the following: “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.”

In fact, the chief was providing a timeline of the four shootings, and describing how his agency had received some 5,000 tips before arresting the 24-year-old suspect.

“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 … did not check her out,” Settambrino said.

Tampa Police Department spokesman Steve Hegarty said Monday that Roberts just showed up and told him she was there to provide the sign language interpretation at the Nov. 28 news conference. He assumed that someone else at the department called the service it uses for interpreters.

“I allowed her to do it. I didn’t ask enough questions,” Hegarty said. ”

How she knew about the press conference and why she volunteered to do sign language interpretation is still a mystery Hegarty wants to solve.

“I don’t know what motivates her, but she hasn’t returned my calls,” he said. “I would like to know both professionally, and also personally, how did it occur to you to come down to do that?”

At the next day’s follow-up news conference, a different interpreter, Ben Zapata, was beside the chief.




Hegarty said she won’t face any charges. A person matching Roberts’ name and age has an extensive criminal record that includes convictions for fraud over $50,000 and fraudulent use of personal information, but Hegarty couldn’t confirm they are the same person. A message left at a number listed for Roberts wasn’t immediately returned.

It is the most recent example of an apparently unqualified signer appearing at news conferences. In September, as Hurricane Irma approached Florida and officials announced a mandatory evacuation, an interpreter in nearby Manatee County began signing words like “pizza,” ”monster” and “bear,” along with other gibberish.

Manatee County officials later said they were in a pinch and called on a county employee who had an understanding of sign language because he communicates with his deaf brother. However, it quickly became apparent he was in over his head. The deaf community demanded an apology and the video of the news conference went viral.

In 2013 in South Africa, a fake interpreter appeared beside former President Barack Obama and other world leaders during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela, apparently signing gibberish. He later said he is schizophrenic and had seen angels descending in the stadium where the event took place.

Settambrino said Florida, unlike some other states, does not require ASL interpreters to be certified through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, a national nonprofit that “seeks to uphold standards, ethics, and professionalism” for the field, according to its website.

Florida says only that ASL interpreters have to be “qualified,” Settambrino said. “But what is that definition of qualified?”

Source: NYPost.

19 thoughts on “Fake sign language interpreter delivers nonsense at Police announcement.

  1. End Racism Reply

    You just had to make it a black thing. Schizophrenia and not being able to clearly translate are two different situations, but they were both black and both were translators so it must be a black thing to f*** up in such a position.

    • Ellen Reply

      How did they make it a black thing? Its about PEOPLE pretending to be able to interpet when clearly they can’t. One PERSON blamed Schizophrenia as a reason of lying. Chill. Not everyone is racist. Oh and just a heads up there are PEOPLE of ALL COLOURS in South Africa. Sorry the video showed a PERSON with a darker complection who LIED about being a translator. God forbid there be proof of ANYONE doing wrong.

    • Larry Reply

      Who made it a “black thing” other than YOU? Stop trying listening to guys like Rev. Al Sharpton and trying to find racism where there isn’t any

    • lol I'm Jk Reply

      I know, they clearly mean black women can’t sign ASL or read or write English. Now that! Is racist! If she was white, everyone would suddenly ‘Understand’ her.

    • Jessica Reply

      Why do you always have to play the “black card”?
      No one said anything even remotely prominant towards African Americans and someone always has to ASSUME it was directed at them! It’s getting old, it’s extremely overplayed and white people are not ganging up against the blacks. If anything, you really see it the other way around and white people know it just as well as the black. Its TRUTH people! It’s been happening for years and I’m tired of hearing about RACISM!

  2. You'reADouceBag Reply

    If you had actually any knowledge of American Sign Language you would know that you’re a complete fucktard. I’ve been fluent in ASL for more than a decade so STFU.

  3. Samuel J. Ray Reply

    There should be some policy out in place that this won’t ever happen again. Secondly there is a serious breech of information if she was able to know a head of time that that news conference was even scheduled. Some one ran their mouth. Thirdly, I have to believe she is a bit crazy and someone needs to check that because i have to believe that insanity allowed her to stand their and insult a whole segment of the population like that.

  4. Sue Gentry Reply

    For ALL of those people that gave me “hell” regarding my opinion this past week…that this lady had NO knowledge whatsoever of sign language. I’ve been deaf ALL my life, went to Graduate school along men and women who were in training for certified interpreting license, let this be a lesson…

  5. Anonymity Reply

    1) you don’t have to cuss to get your point across in the comments.
    2) I agree to everything in the comments.
    3) race isn’t a thing here. I think it’s more based on the lack of experience on the interpretater

  6. Strong black Queen Reply

    Arrest her for false representation
    Frfr!!!!!
    Shit wasn’t cute and was very disrespectful
    What if someone made in front of her up there looking like someone who escaped the phyc ward!!!!!
    Lol
    Sad especially when our people struggle so hard an suffering so bad……

  7. Sharon Reply

    The article doesn’t mention colour at all , wth is wrong with people, all I thought is the poor deaf people wouldn’t have a clus what was going on , not omg she’s black. Never even thought about it until that person said about making it a black thing, had to read it again because I thought I’d read the wrong thing. People need to stop fighting each other over perceived slights, and take a look at the government and media who are whipping people up into a frenzy, all to deflect from what they’re doing.

  8. Queen Reply

    Anyone who marked this as racist… You’re racist. Victims of pure ignorance, no understanding of anything. Mfs were fake. There are ppl sitting there who can hear who rely on sign to get the news and these dumb asses are running around faking it. It’s called being a criminal. If toy don’t see that you’re as much a jackass than the fake interpreters. It sucks to live in a world with so many dumb ass adults.

  9. Scott Reply

    Funny and Sad at the same time. The fact that this woman had a few loose screws has absolutely nothing to do with race, or skin color. The world is filled with people of all colors and races who are nutty. The willy-nilly accusations of racism is seriously desensitizing real occurrences of racism, a lot like the story about “Peter and the Wolf”.

  10. Stephanie Reply

    I don’t understand sign language but from
    Looking at this she clearly has no clue what she is doing she should be ashamed of herself

  11. Karen Reply

    There is ASL and then there are other non conventional sign languages from other countries that have similarities to ASL, but no less different and foreign to those who understand only ASL.

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