Deaf Publix worker says shopper punched her when she didn’t respond

Posted at 10:29 PM, Apr 24, 2018

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – An employee at a Publix supermarket in Virginia said she was stunned when a shopper punched her while apparently trying to get her attention Saturday.

Liberty Gratz, who is deaf and has some vision loss, told WRIC, “All of a sudden, I felt some woman hit me in my back.”

With her mother, Jeanette Gratz, translating, Liberty said she was trying to straighten some items on a shelf near the ground when she felt the blow.

“She doesn’t have that peripheral vision, so she’s really focused on her work,” Jeanette told WRIC.

Jeanette and Liberty communicate using American Sign Language, but if Liberty wants to communicate with someone at Publix she usually writes it out on paper. Both Liberty and her twin brother were born with Usher syndrome, according to a GoFundMe fundraiser.  It’s the most common condition affecting vision and hearing, according to the National Eye Institute.

The shopper in Saturday’s incident was trying to find something in the store and apparently punched Liberty out of frustration after not getting a response, her mother told The News and Observer.

Liberty said she told others at the supermarket, but they were unable to find the woman in surveillance video because so many shoppers were blocking the camera’s line of sight.

Her mother said Liberty was still hurting when she picked her up, but she isn’t holding a grudge. In fact, Liberty said she just hopes she can sit down with the person to share some tips on how to treat people with disabilities.

“I know hurt people usually are the ones that hurt people, Jeanette told WRIC. “I will continue to pray for them, and I hope that things get better in their life so they can be better to other people.”

Publix has not responded to requests for comment as of Tuesday evening.