After a taxi driver spotted an autistic 11-year-old walking naked on the highway early Saturday morning, Oregon State police used a taser to apprehend her. Although police said the move was necessary to stop her from danger, a witness at the scene, Adam Bednar, disputed this account, saying she wasn’t walking toward the road. The local Newswatch 12 reports:
Bednar says he drove alongside her while he called police. He says the trooper who arrived called for her to stop, and when she didn’t respond threatened twice to taze her. After giving no response, two little red dots appeared on her back, then metal barbs.
“She seized up and she fell face first on the ground,” said Bednar.
Police claim they warned the girl twice before tasing her. But Bednar was walking around confused and unresponsive, and her father says his daughter has a severe form of autism and doesn’t respond verbally at all. Other state troopers have received calls before about the girl running away from home.
The officers involved have not been suspended and the department says it is investigating the incident. But misuse of excessive force on the mentally ill is a common police problem. A Department of Justice investigation of Portland, Oregon police last year found a “pattern of abuse” and excessive force, including tasing, on the mentally ill. And a study in Maine found that half of those shot by police were mentally ill.
(h/t: Pam’s House Blend)