September 23, 2020

A 13-year-old boy with autism was shot by police after his mother called for help managing a ‘mental breakdown’

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By Harmeet Kaur and Konstantin Toropin | CNN

A 13-year-old boy was seriously injured after being shot by a police officer in Salt Lake City on Friday night, according to his mother.

Golda Barton said that her son Linden Cameron, who has Asperger syndrome, experienced a “mental breakdown” earlier in the day. It had been her first day back at work in nearly a year, and Linden was having trouble coping, she confirmed to CNN in an email.

Barton also confirmed she called the police and asked for a crisis intervention team to help her manage the situation and get her son treatment.

“I said, ‘Look, he’s unarmed. He doesn’t have anything. He just gets mad and he starts yelling and screaming,’” Barton told CNN affiliate KUTV about her call to police. “He’s a kid he’s trying to get attention. He doesn’t know how to regulate.”

When police arrived, Barton said her son ran away. She told KUTV that she heard someone yell “get down on the ground” three times, followed by several gunshots.

“Why didn’t they tase him? Why didn’t they shoot him with a rubber bullet?” Barton told the station. “He’s a small child. Why don’t you just tackle him? You are big police officers with massive amounts of resources.”

Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Keith Horrocks said in a news conference on Saturday that officers had been called to the area because a boy was having a “psychological episode and had made threats to some folks with the weapon.”

The boy fled and as police chased after him, one officer fired their weapon and struck the child, Horrocks said. Officers provided medical aid to the boy until medical personnel arrived, Horrocks said. He was then taken to a local hospital, according to police.

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Linden’s injuries include damage to his shoulder, ankles, intestines, bladder and colon, as well as nerve damage, Barton told CNN.

It is not clear whether the boy actually had a weapon, or exactly what threats police were said to be responding to.

Barton told CNN her son was unarmed. Detective Greg Wilking, a spokesperson for the Salt Lake City Police Department, told CNN on Tuesday that he could not speak specifically to whether the boy had a weapon or “what the officers’ perceived threats were,” and that those questions would be determined by the investigation.

“Mom can say whatever she wants, but there’s this investigation that has to happen and this process that has to take place,” Wilking said.

The incident is being investigated by a team consisting primarily of officers from the West Valley City Police Department, according to Wilking. West Valley City is a suburb of Salt Lake City, both of which are part of Salt Lake County.

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