In The Politics of Autism, I discuss interactions between police and autistic people. Police officers need training to respond appropriately. When they do not, things get out of hand. A recent incident in Salt Lake City is getting national attention.
The parents of a 13-year-old boy with autism have filed a federal lawsuit against the Salt Lake City Police Department and the officer believed to have shot and injured the teen.
On Sept. 4, Linden Cameron’s mother, Golda Barton, called police for help while her son was having a mental health episode. The responding officers opened fire on the unarmed teenager instead, severely injuring him. Linden’s family has sought justice in the months since, and his story has rallied groups seeking police reform in Utah.
A complaint filed in Utah District Court on Monday alleges police shot Linden 11 times.
The civil lawsuit also claims the responding officers should have known Linden had mental health issues because Barton had told dispatchers about his autism and that he needed a “mental health worker, because he’s sick.” At least four officers responded, according to the complaint, which “were not trained as mental health workers” and “were not trained as crisis intervention team officers.” At least one officer allegedly acknowledged Linden has a “sensory disorder.”