Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Young Man with Autism was Physically Restrained by A Police Officer in Arizona

After a police officer from Buckeye, Arizona used physical force to restrain a young man with autism, his parents and the community are calling for increased autism training and awareness by police officers.
                            
A police officer in Buckeye, Arizona has mistaken a young boy with autism for a drug user. After spotting Connor Leible in a park notorious for drug use, the police officer, trained in drug behavior recognition, stopped to question him. The entire confrontation was captured on the officer’s body cam.

The officer confronts Connor asking him what he is doing crouched over. Connor replies to the officer that he is Stimming,' a technique used by many people affected by autism to successfully calm down and relax. Connor was using string and repetitive movements and motion to try and relax.
Connor, becoming increasing distraught, repeatedly screams at the officer that he is okay, and then attempts to walk away. The officer demands that Connor stops, and then tackles the young man to the ground and physically restrains him. During the scuffle that ensued between the officer and Connor, Connor suffers a number of scratches, scrapes, and bruises to his back, shoulders, neck, and upper torso. After Connor is restrained by the officer, his caretaker arrives and informs the officer that Connor has autism.
The officer was cleared of misconduct and is currently performing his usual duties. Connor’s parents who watched the troubling footage are calling for increased autism awareness. They have stated that with the correct training, the officer would have immediately understood what ‘stimming’ was and would have reacted differently to the situation. They also asked for a public letter of apology, and for the officer to undertake community service within the autistic community.
So far, there has been no response to the parent's demands and no time frame for a response, if one will even be given. The Buckeye Police Department says all officers undertake training on how to interact with people with disabilities but are investigating ways that they could improve officer training and awareness. 

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