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Video shows officer detain autistic teen

Officer Grossman said Connor appeared to have something inside his closed fist and was sweating profusely

By Police1 Staff

BUCKEYE, Ariz. — Police released body camera footage of a confrontation between an officer and an autistic teenager.

Officer Grossman, a state-certified trainer in drug use recognition, observed Connor alone in a park on July 19, a news release obtained by CBS 5 said. He said he saw Connor move his hand to his face “consistent with inhaling, and then observed the teenager’s body react accordingly after that movement.”

Grossman then approached Connor to ask what he was doing. An incident report said Connor appeared to have something inside his closed fist and was “sweating profusely.”

On video, Connor, who has autism, can be heard attempting to explain that he was “stimming,” which is a repetitive behavior autistic people do to calm themselves. Connor’s family said he holds a piece of yarn close to his face.

When Connor turned to walk away from Grossman, the officer grabbed his wrist to detain him. Connor can be heard struggling and screaming.

‘It just happened so fast that the officer had to make a split-second decision when the subject began to walk away from him,” Det. Tamela Skaggs said in a news conference.

Connor’s aunt and caretaker arrived to the scene and asked the officer what was happening and explained that Connor was autistic. She then told Grossman that he was stimming. Officials said after a second officer arrived, Connor was released to his caretaker.

Connor’s attorney Timothy Scott said that Connor wants an apology and wants Grossman to perform community service with the autistic community. The attorney is also asking that all Buckeye police officers receive autistic training.

“If Buckeye PD does those 3 things, we will be flexible in resolving the boy’s financial damages, but those 3 issues are mandatory,” Scott tweeted.

“Had an officer received any kind of meaningful training on autism or people with developmental disabilities, he would have known exactly what Connor meant,” Scott said. “He couldn’t have put it in plainer language precisely what he was doing and yet the officer ended up grabbing him and putting him on the ground.”

Skaggs said the police department has a program where any person with any disability can register with the department so officers who come in contact with them can adjust their behavior accordingly. She said they’ll use Grossman’s body camera video to train other officers.

“We are going to learn from this and hopefully deal with these situations differently,” she said. “We learned a lot from this video .... We will take any type of training that we can get from again, from this incident, any other incident and we can learn from, we can better ourselves from.”