The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Woonsocket Police Department over the arrest of a deaf man in 2015.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, claims that Woonsocket police violated David Alves' rights when they arrested him and jailed him overnight for allegedly making an obscene gesture.
The suit also argues that the police department's failure to provide Alves with an interpreter violated laws barring discrimination.
ACLU officials say Alves, who is deaf, signed a gesture intended for the bouncer of a Market Square nightclub during an argument. Officers called to break up the dispute interpreted Alves' sign language as him giving police the middle finger.
A municipal court judge later dismissed charges against Alves.
Woonsocket police officials declined to comment.