Every Mother’s Nightmare
13-year-old boy with autism disorder shot by Salt Lake City Police
It was a terrifying experience for a mother from Salt Lake City when her 13-year-old son with an autism disorder was shot by a Salt Lake City police officer. This happened after the mother called 911 seeking help for her son, who was experiencing a mental health crisis.
Linden Cameron is in the hospital after getting shot by police, according to his mother. (Photo: Courtesy of Golda Barton)
She told CBS affiliate KUTV that she called police to request that a crisis intervention team transport her son to a hospital for treatment as he was having a “mental breakdown.” The mother said she was the one who called the police and asked for a crisis intervention team (CIT). She said her son was having a mental breakdown. She spoke briefly about this process:
“This is how to deal with people with mental health issues. So, you call them, and they’re supposed to come out and be able to deescalate a situation using the most minimal force possible.”
She explained to the CIT that her son was having a mental breakdown and needed to be transported to the hospital for treatment. It was the first day the mom had returned to work in almost a year …”He has bad separation anxiety,” she explained. On the phone with officers, she explained the best way to approach him:
“I said, he’s unarmed, he doesn’t have anything, he just gets mad and he starts yelling and screaming. He’s a kid and he’s trying to get attention; he doesn’t know how to regulate.”
She said she was told to stay while two officers went through the front door of the home where her boy was located. She said in less than five minutes, she heard “get down on the ground” and several gunshots were heard. The mother thought her son was dead and said the officers didn’t immediately say if he was or was not alive. And, the mom also said he was handcuffed.
Imagine the fear of a mother for the life of her child. She is expecting that this situation would be handled carefully but what happened was the opposite. If the situation was handled differently with correct intervention, then the result would have been different. As a mother, it is frustrating because situations show the mentally ill and mentally disabled are often not dealt with correctly. This scenario is the nightmare of every parent and family member of a disabled person.
This incident will, no doubt, have long lasting impact on the child. When bad things happen, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. The 13-year-old was unarmed; he was in a rage, but not threatening people. Obviously in this situation, a gun shouldn’t have been involved.
It is very important for police officers to be aware of how to handle cases like this.
More comprehensive training on deescalating situations would go a long way towards improving a situation. Elite Direct Support (EDS) can help by sharing their knowledge through conducting seminars or forums that will help educate the public on how to handle a crisis that involves people with a disability. Obviously, this isn’t the only thing that needs to be done; there are a lot of things that can be improved.
It’s very heartbreaking to know that actions out of fear are sometimes interpreted as guilt. You lie down on the ground. Could you be reaching for a gun? You are turning your back. Could you be reaching for a gun?
A 13 year old child was involved. He was unarmed and was having an episode because his mom was going back to work.