A video of 10-year-old autistic boy being arrested has caused outrage online after his mother posted it on Facebook.
The Florida mother, Luanne Haygood, used her cell phone to record the arrest, documenting school resource officers handcuffing her son and taking him away in a patrol car in which she was not allowed to ride.
The boy, John Benji Haygood, who has autism, is accused of battery of a school employee in Okeechobee County stemming from an incident last November in which he allegedly kicked and punched a teacher. The boy was suspended from the Okeechobee Achievement Academy last November, but he and his mother were unaware that there was a warrant out for his arrest for the offense—a third-degree felony.
Haygood contends that her son should not have been arrested for his actions.
“It was because of his autism that spurred this incident,” Haygood said. “And he was arrested for that.”
In the video, officers handcuff the boy as he says, “I don’t want to be touched. Please don’t touch me. I don’t know what’s going on.”
According to Autism Speaks, aversion to being touched can be a symptom of autism.
Haygood noted that watching her son being handcuffed and put into a police car broke her heart. Following his arrest, the boy spent the night in a juvenile facility in Fort Pierce, Florida.
The incident occurred last year, but deputies claimed that they could not serve the warrant until last week.
Haygood noted that her son has previously experienced behavioral issues due to his autism, but that there needed to be an alternative way of dealing with him.
“Unfortunately, instead of treating or accommodating we arrest because we don’t know what else to do,” Haygood said.
WWLP reported that the sheriff’s office and prosecutors were not aware that the boy was autistic, and noted that the state’s attorney will take his condition into consideration when making a decision regarding the charge against him.
Haygood was a guest on a radio show on Tuesday, to discuss the incident. The segment starts about about 2.30 minutes into the program.
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