Ten Year Old Boy with Autism Arrested
Luanne Haygood had taken her son, John Benjamin, to school to be tested. The 10 year old child suffers from Autism. That is when the police arrived. Citing an active warrant, the officers proceeded to handcuff and arrest the boy, who repeatedly said that he “did not to be touched.”
Video of the incident shows the mother telling them the child has been diagnosed with Autism and asking what they were doing there. They refused to tell her what he was being arrested for, nor did they heed her pleas to be more gentle with her Autistic son. The same video shows a clearly upset and confused child begging his mother to tell him what was going on. Lacking any real response from the police officers, she was unable to do that. At one point John Benjamin tells his mother that he blames her for what is going on.
No one told law enforcement that the child had Autism.
At no point in this upsetting video did anyone at the school step in and tell the law enforcement officers that John Benjamin is Autistic. One common problem that people with the disorder have is a sensitivity to being touched. During the whole episode, no one told the mother what exactly her child was being arrested for or why her 10 year old son needed to be taken out in handcuffs.
Luanne would find out later what the problem was. Six months prior to that, John Benjamin was afraid of a staff member at the school and he kicked that person. As a consequence, a warrant for battery, which is a third degree felony, had been issued. Despite knowing where the family lived, the law enforcement officers said they could not execute the warrant until he was back at school. He had been suspended for the incident.
Apparently, no one at the school thought they needed to tell the state’s attorney that the child had Autism. That office has now said they plan to take his situation into consideration before they decide how to proceed. John Benjamin was clearly terrified throughout the arrest. His mother describes his state of mind this way, “His lip was quivering, he was scared. He could barely say his own name. It was because of his autism that spurred this incident and he was arrested for that. Unfortunately, instead of treating or accommodating, we arrest because we don’t know what else to do.”
The boy’s terrifying experience did not end with the arrest. He was forced to spend the night in juvenile detention before being allowed to go home.
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