Cops said they had an unqualified sign-language interpreter at the Tampa Police Department’s press conference about a suspected serial killed on Nov. 28. The woman has been identified as Derlyn Roberts. She stood to the right of Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan as he announced the arrest of Howell Donaldson III.
“From what I understand, she knows enough about sign language that she was able to fake it,” TPD Spokesman Steve Hegarty told WTSP in a Monday report. “But it was not accurate, and it was not clear, and that’s a disservice to the deaf community.”
Professor Rachelle Settambrino, a deaf woman who teaches American Sign Language at the University of South Florida, wasn’t as generous about Roberts’ skill.
“She sat up there and waved her arms like she was singing Jingle Bells,” Settambrino told The Tampa Bay Times.
Hegarty told WTSP Roberts just showed up to the press conference, and he accepted her services. He said that the TPD has gone back to using Purple, a service that provides certified sign-language interpreters. Hegarty also said that Roberts is being investigated for similar acts.
“She has shown up at some funerals and things like that around town in the past and done some signing,” he claimed.
Roberts’ criminal record goes back to 2005 for charges like fraud, but has not been charged with a crime in this instance, however. She could not be reached for comment. No one answered the door when KTNV dropped by her home.
[Screengrab via CBS]