Bodycam: Officer Takes Down Teen Boy With Autism, Thought He Was on Drugs

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
September 20, 2017US News
Bodycam: Officer Takes Down Teen Boy With Autism, Thought He Was on Drugs
Buckeye Police patrol cars. (Screenshot Via Facebook/Buckeye AZ Police Department)

An Arizona family is demanding for an apology and increased police training after their autistic 14-year-old son was taken down and pinned to the ground by an officer who thought the teen was on drugs.

Buckeye Police recently released body camera footage of the incident on Monday, Sept. 18.

The footage, recorded on July 19, shows Officer Grossman from the Buckeye Police Department detaining teen Connor Leibel in a park. The first name of the officer has not yet been released by police.

During the footage, Connor can be heard telling Grossman “I’m stimming.”

Stimming, or self-stimulatory behavior, is a common technique used among autistic people involving repetitive actions such as hand-flapping or making random noises, according to the Applied Behavior Analysis organization.

But the officer didn’t understand what the word meant, and was also unaware the boy had autism.

The officer then asks Connor for identification, but the teenager replies that he doesn’t have any ID and starts to walk away.

As the officer puts his hands on him the boy screams “I’m OK!” multiple times as he falls to the ground.

The incident first occurred when Grossman saw the teen by himself in a park.

According to a press release the boy was “moving his hand to his face in a manner consistent with inhaling, and then [Grossman] observed the teenager’s body react accordingly after that movement.”

The police department said that the officer “lawfully detained the teenager, causing both of them to fall to the ground.”

The teenage boy sustained abrasions to his back and arm as he brushed up against a tree.

The officer held the teen on the ground for two minutes while waiting for another officer to come, according to the press release.

Before the other officer came, the teen’s caretaker arrived at the scene and told Grossman the boy has autism. The teen was released to sit with his caretaker after other officers arrived.

Buckeye police determined that there was “no escalation of force” in the incident, and it is not yet known if the officer in question will be facing any charges.

But the family is seeking a personal apology from the officer to Connor and that he perform community service with the autistic community, NBC affiliate KPNX-TV reported.

They also asked for mandatory training for all officers.

The Buckeye Police department “continually trains our officers for a variety of scenarios, including interacting with those identified with disabilities” the release said.

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