OK. I know I sound like a broken record here, but police NEED to be better trained and more exposed to people on the Autism Spectrum and how to interact with them. Maybe this is the advocate and workaholic in me talking…I don’t know…but I sick and tired of hearing these bullshit stories of cops or law enforcement “not knowing any better” and basically harassing people on the Spectrum and with other disabilities. This particular article I am writing about today takes place in Bristol, England. I am an Autism advocate in Baltimore in the USA, sure, but I am still outraged about this.
Here’s what happened. A man named Paul (that is all we know about him) is severely Autistic and “has the mental age of a 7 year old”. Paul is 28 but no other information is known about Paul at this point. Paul, according to the police department was “Tased and charged with assaulting an officer.” If not for the CCTV that was set up, Paul might have wound up in prison.
So what happened? Well, back in 2015, Paul broke a window. The police were called and Paul started running. **As a side note, I have done trainings with the Baltimore County Police Department and was “arrested” during. They taught us not to do 3 things: Don’t Run; Don’t Fight; Don’t Argue. The “arrest” was done in a controlled setting and I was obviously not in any trouble for anything. I have attached the video**
Anyway, as I said, Paul started running when he saw the police. One officer pulled out a Taser and shot Paul in the back with the stun weapon. The Police Department alleged that Paul “double-hand pushed an officer in the chest” and that “the officer stumbled back 2 feet before the Taser was used”.
The CCTV footage shows a WAY different story. After Paul’s mother took the camera footage to court, a legal prosecutor said that the Taser was not necessary for something as minor as a broken window. I whole-heartedly agree.
Here’s where it gets iffy. The police report stated that Paul’s arrest and being Tased were reasonable. BUT the report has not been publicly released. The Bristol police force, despite all this evidence to the contrary, is supporting the officers involved.
The Police Force said that “one officer was kicked and they were not aware of Paul’s learning difficulties, despite him living in sheltered accommodations.” Um…ok…
So they knew Paul lived in an assisted living home, knew he was not being aggressive (minus the broken window)…AND STILL TASED HIM! The article said that “further disability awareness for officers” is recommended. No shit!
Look, I know mistakes happen. I get that. But police seem to abuse their power all too often. This is not an isolated incident. Shit like this happens a lot and it is sad. I feel there are almost no “straight cops” anymore. Cops seem to have this “shoot now, ask questions later” mentality. It happens a lot with people with disabilities. Cops need to be properly trained on what to do with disabled people. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think. Thanks!