When I first heard this story, I was saddened and slightly sickened at the thought that a police officer would think he would have to use any force at all on a young woman that was wandering naked and had no means of defending herself or attacking anyone with any weapons. I thought that maybe there were some extenuating circumstances, and the young lady was perhaps severely mentally ill and lashed out violently and the officer had no choice in subduing her as he waited for back-up.
But then more details started to come out, and that sick feeling deepened. It wasn’t just a young woman. She was not mentally ill. It was an 11-year-old child. A child. And she is Autistic. So much so that she was unaware of her surroundings and non-verbal. Witness reports indicated that she was simply walking along the highway and the witness called the police to help her. She was confused and unresponsive. The police claim she needed to be apprehended on the roof of the car and the taser was necessary to do so. A docile, compliant girl needed to be tasered. By TWO police officers.
Reports on the news continuously refer to her a woman. She’s not a woman. Her father has spoken out and clarified that she is indeed an 11 year old CHILD with Autism Spectrum Disorder that has the mental capacity of a three year old. She’s not mentally ill. She’s autistic. She posed no danger to the police officers. She simply did not comply because she didn’t understand. It was as if she didn’t hear them, and whatever she did hear she didn’t understand. That kind of happens when someone with ASD has what others consider the mental capacity of a three year old child. She wouldn’t have understood the ramifications of not complying with complicated adult terminology.
I just… I keep thinking that these officers aren’t going to have a case at all in justifying their actions.
- She was naked and had no means of defending herself.
- She was naked and had no means of hiding weapons.
- She was unarmed.
- She did not level any threats at the police officers.
- Her conduct did not present them with resistance. She simply did not comply with orders to stop.
- She was non-compliant, but in a way that wasn’t obstinate or violent. She wasn’t rude or combative. She simply behaved as if she didn’t hear them. As the witness stated, she appeared confused, giggled, and just kept walking.
- She was not facing the officer when he tasered her. He tasered her in the back as she walked away. IN THE BACK. She was walking away from the officers, not rushing them. Not even running away.
- They didn’t attempt less intrusive methods to get her to stop ie. waiting for back-up to arrive; attempting other tactics.
- Tasers are intended to diffuse dangerous situations. What about this situation was dangerous for the officers? A naked child walking along the highway? Or did they think that tasering her was for her own good? Apparently they did. They claim it likely saved her life.
As a mother to a child that has Autism who is 10.5 years old… one who is a known wanderer… I find this situation excessive and terrifying. My daughter appears not to have Autism as severe as the girl in this story, but no one really knows what led to that little girl being out there naked and alone and eloping. My own daughter, nearly the same age, could very easily be in a similar situation where she’s walking with a destination in mind that only she is aware of and she doesn’t comply with whomever is talking to her.
But this hurts me as a mother to three daughters. As a mother at all. You just don’t. Tase. Children. Common sense, yes?
Situations like this are why police officers MUST be trained on Autism Spectrum Disorders and other disabilities. What if this had been a child or teen or adult that was deaf? Or had a cognitive delay? Or actually was mentally ill? What if it was simply a child that had been told to never talk to strangers, ever? This child was no threat to anyone. She was victimized in the supposed effort to keep her from being a victim.
Did you know that when someone is tasered, it’s incredibly painful? Tasers produce an electric current which is incapacitating, causing the skeletal muscles to freeze. Every muscle freezes at the same time, which means that you can’t move. You can’t stand. You fall, and you feel every single thing. You can be injured during the fall if you hit your body and head on something, like a car or railing before hitting the ground. You can be injured as you hit the ground on cement and rocks. People have died from heart attacks caused by tasers. Remember… the heart is a muscle too. The prongs of the taser attach themselves to the skin, which causes localized pain. The pain you feel during a taser attack is supposed to subside as soon as the current is off. The aftereffects are supposed to be a brief feeling of unease, temporary unsteadiness on the feet, feeling dazed, temporary stinging, and temporary stress on the muscles.
That’s what happens to typical people. People that don’t likely have Sensory Processing Disorder. People that don’t have developmental delays and problems with social interactions and social cues.
I know that there’s going to be a vocal group that says,
“Well what were those officers supposed to do? The girl didn’t listen to them. They had no way of knowing she has Autism. They had no way of knowing she wasn’t older than 11 years old with the way kids mature so fast these days. They had to make her comply. When the police tell you to stop, you stop no matter what. If you don’t then anything after that is on you and not them. And by the way, where were the parents?”
Because there are always people like that. I get the mentality. Police officers enforce the law. But discretion must be used and so must common sense. And I don’t believe common sense was used in this case.
If you disagree with me, that’s fine. But I ask that if you’re unfamiliar with Autism and/or have a tendency to automatically defend police actions, please read up on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Elopement. You should also read up on Sensory Processing Disorder. Read up on the statistics of police brutality against people who have disabilities.
I try to discuss Autism and the related issues we face here in my blog from a life perspective so that those who stumble on my blog can try to understand and maybe put the knowledge they glean here to use the next time they come across a particular situation in their own lives. I already think that tasers shouldn’t be used because the complications that arise from them are ridiculous, and they’re not used with enough discretion. I find them brutal and barbaric. I find it ridiculous that anyone would find it proper to use on a minor child under any circumstances.
I think right about now is a good time for me to end this post, because I’d like to maintain my composure. Please comment, though, even if you disagree with me. Just be respectful.
- Trooper uses Taser on autistic girl (citizenpatriots.typepad.com)
- Oregon State Police Taser Autistic Child Found Wandering Naked (lissakr11humane.com)
- Oregon State Police Taser Autistic Child Found Wandering Naked (informationliberation.com)
- Oregon State Police use taser on 11-year-old autistic girl (newsfixnow.com)
- More Than 530 Taser-Related Deaths In U.S. Since 2001 (dprogram.net)
- 11 Year Old Autistic Child Tazerd by Police in Oregon – Sadly Not Alone (truthfultragedy.wordpress.com)
- Trooper uses Taser on autistic girl (wnd.com)
- Taser use called excessive by family of dead man in San Jose civil trial (mercurynews.com)
- More Than 530 Taser-Related Deaths In U.S. Since 2001 (tallahasseeo.com)
- Oregon State Police use taser on naked autistic 11-year-old girl (syndicatednewsservices.com)