Police Shoot Autistic Child Multiple Times

Linden Cameron, an autistic child, shot by Salt Lake City police
Linden Cameron – (Photo by Golda Barton)

13 Year Old with Autism Shot by Police

On Friday night, young Linden Cameron was having an anger episode due to his autism. His mother called the police for help asking for a crisis intervention team.

These teams are supposed to be trained in how to handle situations where the person is having a pyschological episode. According to Golda Barton, Linden’s mother, she told the officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department,

“I said, he’s unarmed, he doesn’t have anything, he just gets mad and he starts yelling and screaming. He’s a kid he’s trying to get attention, he doesn’t know how to regulate.”

Officers confronted Linden, who got scared and ran away. They chased him and then according to Sgt. Keith Horrocks, “an officer discharged his firearm.” This brings up the question as to whether any of the shots that hit the child were fired into his back. Was Linden shot in the back as he was running away? No one has answered that question yet. What we do know is that, “Linden Cameron had injuries to his shoulder, both ankles, intestines, and bladder, according to his mother, Golda Barton.”

The Same Old Story

I could have told you what the story would be from the police before I ever read a thing. According to them, he was armed with a weapon. As of yet, no weapon has been found and his mother says he did not have a weapon. It’s extremely early in the investigative process but if Linden had a dangerous weapon and had turned around to aim that weapon at the officers, wouldn’t more than one officer have shot? Yet only one did shoot. But again, nothing, including what the police have said so far, indicates that Linden turned to confront them in any manner.

In fact, Sgt. Horrocks says, “During a short foot pursuit, an officer discharged his firearm and hit the subject.” Not many people run backwards when running from the police which sure makes it sound as if the officer shot the child in the back. Running away does not place an officer in fear for his life, which is a justification for the used of deadly force.

The Nightmare of Every Family with Mentally Challenged Individuals

Every family I know who has an individual with mental issues, are terrified of being placed in a position of having to call the police. Police violence is the most common result of any interaction between police and people with mental issues. An autistic person can be overwhelmed by information from his senses. They are frustrated by their inability to communicate effectively. It’s very common for this sensory overload and frustration from being unable to communicate to result in anger and violence. The violence is often directed at himself such as repeatedly hitting his head with his hand but it can also be a lashing out. The best way to deal with an autistic person exhibiting this type of behavior is to distract him. But that takes understanding and most of all, patience, which is something officers are sorely lacking in.

Most officers are bored out of their minds in training classes and barely pay any attention. They take them because they have to. When out in the field, they resort to their usual attitude of ‘comply or face the consequences.’ No real consideration is given to a person’s ability to understand what is happening to them. After all, if serious injury or even death occurs, all they have to say is that the person had a weapon and/or they feared for their life. The ultimate ‘get out of jail free’ cards.

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