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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Deputy Fatally Shoots Autistic Teen

 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss interactions between police and autistic people.  When cops encounter autistic people, they may not respond in the same way as NT people, and things can get out of hand. Among other things, they may misinterpret autistic behavior as aggressive or defiant, and respond with tasers, batons, chokeholds, or worse. Training could help.

Hannah Fry at LAT:
Ryan Gainer, a teen with autism, was a cross-country runner who worked out his frustrations with six-mile runs and dreamed of becoming an engineer.

On Saturday afternoon, the 15-year-old became upset that his parents had demanded he complete his household chores before he would be allowed to play video games or listen to music on his computer, according to DeWitt Lacy, a civil rights attorney representing Ryan’s family.

“He got upset. Any teen would be upset by that,” Lacy said. Some people with autism experience more heightened emotions and on that day Ryan responded by breaking glass on the front door, Lacy said.

A family member called 911 for help, asking dispatch to send deputies to “take him in” because he was breaking glass and hitting his sister, according to a portion of the call released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

But instead a responding deputy fatally shot the teen, saying he had threatened the deputy with a garden tool.