A South Carolina mother says her 34-year-old autistic son got a special gift this year for Christmas from the Greenville City Police Department.
In a formal complaint filed against the department, Carolyn Anderson claims officers tased and then arrested her son Tario on Christmas Eve after he attempted to avoid them.
The mother says Tario has a severe form of autism rendering him almost incapable of speaking. Not being able to communicate effectively with the officers may have perpetuated the escalation.
Greenville police had responded to a call about gunshots in Anderson’s neighborhood around midnight, when they spotted and attempted to detain Tario as he walked on the street near his home.
According to Anderson, her son frequently goes for walks in the evening, visiting family members who live in the neighborhood.
Police say when they spotted him on the street he attempted to walk away from them.
“When they put their spotlight on him, he immediately put his head down, put his hands in his pockets and began to walk away from him,” Officer Johnathan Bragg with Greenville Police said. “They then got out of the vehicle and approached him and ordered him to stop at which point he did flee from the officers and they pursued him.”
After police caught up with Anderson they used Tasers on him in order to take him into custody.
Neighbors familiar with Tario — who has lived his entire life in the same neighborhood– heard him yelling as the police attempted to subdue him and they immediately called his mother.
“If you had seen my baby was out there, laying on that sidewalk and every time he reached for me, I reached for him- [they’d say] “Get back, we gonna Tase you,” Carolyn Anderson said. “No matter what I said, it didn’t make no difference to them.”
According to Officer Bragg, officers were not aware of Anderson’s disability, but that he still broke the law when he attempted to flee.
Following his arrest, Anderson was treated on the scene by paramedics before being taken to a detention center where he was charged with interfering with police and resisting arrest. He has a court date set for Jan. 9.
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