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Friday, March 22, 2024

Wrongful Death

 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. Training could help.

Hannah Fry at LAT:
The family of Ryan Gainer, a 15-year-old boy with autism who was shot and killed by San Bernardino County sheriff‘s deputies outside his Apple Valley home this month, has filed a wrongful death claim against the county, attorneys announced during a news conference on Thursday.

The claim, which signals that the family plans to sue the county, says legal action could focus on allegations of assault, battery, false imprisonment, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“Under no circumstances should a 15-year-old autistic boy with a gardening hoe be shot and killed without taking the time to calm the boy down before using deadly force,” John Burris, a civil rights attorney who is among those representing the family, said in a prepared statement. “The police conduct was unreasonable.”

Cristy Fajardo at Fox Local:

"They have blood on their hands because they shot and killed and slaughtered a young boy who really wasn't fully capable of appreciating what the police were trying to do to him," said family attorney John Burris.

Burris says the body cam footage shows a series of mistakes.

At first, the deputy yells out, which is known to agitate people with autism. When Gainer appears with a hoe in his hand, the deputy pulls out his gun, which they say would also scare a person on the spectrum.

"They had options. They had tasers, they had pepper spray," he explained.

The family's attorney said just before the shooting, a cousin made a second call to 911 to say that the situation had resolved itself and that Ryan had settled down. They want to know if that information was passed along to the deputies, and if the deputy who fired had been to the home before. They say they're hoping to get those answers as part of the lawsuit.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department wouldn't comment, citing pending litigation. But Sheriff Shannon Dicus did address the media following the shooting.

"Yes, our deputies do carry tasers. So you actually hear, Ryan's family say, why didn't you use a taser? Those techniques don't always work. And when you're talking time and distance and making these critical, life-threatening decisions, particularly with somebody coming down with the deadly weapon on you," Dicus said at a press conference.