Mother says handcuffing of son does not promote trusting relationships with TPD

(Phil Anderson)
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 6:13 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The mother of an autistic 14-year-old boy is saying the handcuffing of her son does not promote trusting relationships between the community and the Topeka Police Department.

The encounter between the Topeka Police Department and an autistic 14-year-old boy on Sept. 19 has his family and advocates shocked.

The boy’s mother says while telling his story, the boy recalls seeing the officer reach low at his hip and feared he was about to be shot. Advocates say the incident occurred within feet of his front yard and the family believes this was excessive. They said if the officer would have approached the boy according to TPD de-escalation protocol, the outcome would have been different.

The Topeka Police Department said officers were called to the area with reports of the boy riding his bike with an off-leash dog, which is a violation of a city ordinance. Officers also said this was not the first time they had made contact with the boy regarding the same issue.

On Sept. 16, officers say they were dispatched to the boy’s home with complaints from neighbors that the boy was walking through the neighborhood with his dog off-leash.

“The responding officer made contact with the 14-year-old and told him that the dog couldn’t be off-leash and that the dog needed to be taken home. He acknowledged the officer’s warning and rode off on his bike,” TPD said of the separate Sept. 16 incident.

TPD said on Sept. 19 it was then called to the same area with complaints from neighbors that the boy was biking around the neighborhood with his dog off-leash.

According to TPD, the use of force was generated in the Sept. 19 incident when the officer took the boy to the ground and handcuffed him. It said there were no injuries reported to them at the time of the incident and the boy was released to a guardian.

However, the boy’s mother said he suffered a fractured wrist due to the incident.

“We are not anti-police,” said the mother. “There are some great officers out there. In the past, he has been approached by officers who stopped to give him a bottle of water while walking home after mowing the church grass.”

The mother of the boy said she has filed a complaint with the Independent Police Auditor and is hoping for a just outcome.

“My son shouldn’t have been taken to the ground and be recovering from a fractured wrist because an officer didn’t have the ability to de-escalate the situation,” she said.

Advocates say they are asking Topekans to decide if this is how they want their law enforcement officials to interact with children. They ask if residents would expect de-escalation to be used when dealing with non-violent offenders and petty offenses such as walking in the street.

Advocates of the boy say they are also asking Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla, the Chief of Police, the City Council and the Fraternal Order of Police to thoroughly look at and make necessary changes to the TPD Policy and Procedure Manual 4.2 Use of Force and 4.3 Use of Force reporting and review team.

“We believe police who abuse their power should be held accountable and still believe in the ability of the police to uphold their sworn duties to serve and protect all citizens,” said the advocates.

The advocates list themselves as Ariane Davis, LaRonna Lassiter-Saunders, Gregory Bland and Janice Crowley.

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