A 13-year-old boy with autism from Utah was shot dead by police after his mother asked for help transporting him to hospital and officers agreed to speak with him, footage of the police released Monday.
The videos show officers shooting him as they chased him from his home in an alleyway. The boy then collapses to the ground, moaning: “I don’t feel well. I do not feel good. His mother had asked him to be hospitalized for help with his mental health issues.
The September 4 shooting took place after his mother Golda Barton told police her son said earlier today that he had a gun and threatened to shoot his male colleague and smash windows of the House. But she told the officers she thought it was a BB pistol or a pellet gun.
Officers said they should proceed as if the boy had access to a real gun and treat the threat as real, according to the videos. Barton told a police dispatcher that his son needed a mental health worker and later told officers the boy was “triggered” upon seeing the police.
“He sees the badge and he automatically thinks that you are going to kill him or that he has to defend himself somehow,” she said. “He’s panicking. ”
The video was made public under a Salt Lake City order requiring video of the police shootings to be released within 10 business days.
The shooting has raised new questions about how police treat people with mental health issues amid nationwide calls for police reform. This happened hours before new de-escalation tactics took effect for the Salt Lake City police.
In one video, two police officers can be heard discussing whether or not to approach the boy because they feared the incident would result in a shootout.
“Especially when he hates cops, it will probably end in a shootout,” one officer said.
As officers approach the house, he is said to be able to see movement in the backyard. Officers started chasing the boy – yelling at him to stop and get down. When they catch up with the boy, they ask him to get back to the ground.
The boy ignores their commands and continues to walk away before a series of gunshots ring out.
Barton said she told dispatchers her son was down and needed help from a crisis response officer.
On the recording of the 911 call, she said she had called the cops before about her son and he had run away from officers before.
“My biggest fear is, I don’t know that I just don’t want him to die,” Barton said. “But the times they’ve come, he’s gone like he’s going to take off and run. That’s why I don’t want to go… I just don’t want to alarm him.
The Salt Lake City officers who arrived had mental health training, but were not crisis intervention specialists. There was no indication that he had a weapon.
Linden, to whom the family only wants to be referred to by first name, was fortunate to be alive after suffering from “pierced organs” and “broken bones,” her lawyer Zach Weyher said.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said she was the mother of a 14-year-old boy. She called the shooting a tragedy, calling for a quick but thorough investigation.
“I am deeply heartbroken and frustrated,” she said. “It is a tragedy for this young boy, for his mother, and for families and individuals with acute mental health needs.