Family Of Autistic Teen Files Claim Against Buckeye Police

Published: Friday, January 26, 2018 - 3:15pm
Updated: Friday, January 26, 2018 - 3:22pm
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A new notice of claim against the Buckeye Police Department is shedding light this week on the conflict that often arises when law enforcement comes into contact with people with disabilities.

The family of an autistic teenager is seeking $5 million after a Buckeye police officer mistook the teen for a drug dealer last year.

While on patrol Officer David Grossman thought the teen was under the influence of an inhalant. He approached him and asked him what he was doing.

Body camera footage of the incident shows the teen said “stimming” short for self-stimulating activity, a common coping method for people with autism.

The boy turned to leave and the officer grabbed his arms, holding them behind his back and pinning him to the ground while the boy yelled.

How common are interactions like this between law enforcement and people with disabilities?

The family’s notice of claim argues that the Buckeye Police Department violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by failing to train the officer about disabilities and that they discriminated against him.

Rose Dely-Rooney is legal director with the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

We reached out to the Buckeye Police Department. Below is the full statement.

"The Buckeye Police Department continually provides training for its officers based on the challenges they face on a daily basis. All 92 sworn officers are trained to professionally address and de-escalate any type of situation they may encounter. Buckeye PD partners with other police agencies throughout the Valley to provide various training opportunities.

"In the past six months,

  • All Buckeye Police Department officers received specific training for working with the autism community in June and August of 2017
  • Buckeye PD is one of the lead agencies in the West Valley Crisis Intervention Team Coalition, whose goal is to train local police officers with the skills needed during an intervention, specifically when an individual is experiencing a crisis
  • Officer Dave Grossman also attended an in-depth 40-hour CIT Program provided by WVCITC covering a wide variety of disabilities in Oct. 2107
  • Partnered with Chandler Police and topic expert Nancy Martinez to provide “Autism Awareness” training for all personnel in Nov. and Dec. of 2107
  • Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall has attended numerous events sponsored by the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center that included a symposium, Coffee with the Chief and SARRC staff and the Tempe Autism Speaks Walk to develop greater awareness and community collaboration.

"In addition, in 2016 the Buckeye Police Department was accredited by the Commission on Accreditation on Law Enforcement Agencies, a non-profit organization that creates professional standards of excellence for law enforcement agencies. Buckeye is one of only 12 agencies in Arizona to receive this accreditation."

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