A disabled man claims his service dog was illegally denied entry to a library by security personnel last week. Terry "Grizz" Hayhurst was arrested when he refused to leave the Central Arkansas Main Library and appeared in court yesterday.
Terry pleaded not guilty to criminal trespass in a courtroom in Little Rock, Arkansas, after being charged with criminal trespass by police.
Police state Terry refused to answer questions asked by library security which are allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, so security had called authorities to have him escorted from the building after he refused to leave with his dog, Nia.
Under ADA guidelines officials are allowed to ask if the dog is a service dog and what tasks he/she has been trained to perform. Officials cannot demand paperwork be provided or ask about the nature of a person's disability.
A library official told KARK 4 that their security officers observed Terry and Nia arriving at the library. The official said that Nia was on a retractable leash at the time and was not wearing any service vest or visual cue indicating her service status. The officers then asked Terry "Is this a service dog? And what is the service dog for?" The library officials said that from what she understands happened, Terry answered the first question, but refused to answer the second.
However, Terry told KARK 4 News that he had answered all their questions, including ones not allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Terry says he even answered the question, "What is your disability?" which is in violation of the ADA. He also said they wanted to see the dog's registration papers, which is also a violation. He added that he tried to show them a copy of the ADA, but that they were not interested in seeing that information.
Terry has his service dog Nia to help assist him in balance after a spinal cord injury made it difficult for him to walk unassisted. He has had her for seven and a half years.
In the PDF, the narrative of the Little Rock Police Department Incident Report reads:
OFFICERS RESPONDED TO THE THE LISTED LOCATION IN REFERENCE TO A DISTURBANCE CALL. UPON ARRIVAL, OFFICERS MADE CONTACT WITH PERSON REPORTING (WILLIAMS), A SECURITY OFFICER FOR THE CENTRAL ARKANSAS LIBRARY, WHO STATED THAT ARRESTEE-1(HAYHURST) HAD CAME INTO THE LIBRARY WITH A DOG. HE STATED THAT WHEN HE ASKED HAYHURST IF HE HAD ANY PAPERWORK ON THE DOG, SHOWING THE DOG IS BEING USED FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES, HAYHURST STATED NO. WILLIAMS STATED THAT HE TOLD HAYHURST THAT THE DOG WAS NOT ALLOWED INSIDE THE BUILDING. HAYHURST ADVISED HIM THAT HE AND THE DOG WERE NOT LEAVING. PER THE REQUEST OF WILLIAMS, OFFICERS ASKED HAYHURST TO EXIT THE BUILDING WITH THE DOG, BUT HE REFUSED. HAYHURST WAS TAKEN INTO CUSTODY AND TRANSPORTED TO THE POLICE KIOSK WHERE HE WAS ISSUED CRIMINAL CITATION 163029 FOR CRIMINAL TRESPASSING.
Terry believe the experience is a misunderstanding and an example of the need for more education as "there's just a lot of misconception".
Although library officials noted that their security is trained on guidelines of the ADA, they said if it turns out they were wrong, they will be the first to apologize, adding anyone who is covered by the law is welcome in the library, including those with service animals.
Terry's case goes to district court in October.
Watch the video of Terry's interview here.