A 13-year-old boy with autism has been seriously injured after being shot by a police officer, according to his mum.
Linden Cameron, from Salt Lake City, was experiencing a “mental breakdown” on Friday night when his mum, Golda Barton, decided she would call the police and a crisis intervention team, hoping they would help her manage the situation and get her son treatment.
In an email to CNN, Golda explained how she was struggling to cope looking after Linden, who has Asperger’s syndrome, and that she had just started her first day back at work after nearly a year. Earlier that day, she became concerned when she realised her son was having some type of “mental breakdown”.
She told CNN affiliate KUTV about her phone call to the police: “I said, ‘Look, he’s unarmed. He doesn’t have anything. He just gets mad and he starts yelling and screaming’.
“He’s a kid he’s trying to get attention. He doesn’t know how to regulate.”
Yet when the police arrived at her property, Linden began to run away. Shockingly, she then heard someone yell “get down on the ground” three, this was followed by several gunshots.
Discussing the incident, Golda said: “Why didn’t they tase him? Why didn’t they shoot him with a rubber bullet?
“He’s a small child. Why don’t you just tackle him? You are big police officers with massive amounts of resources.”
Salt Lake City Police Sergeant Keith Horrocks said in a news conference on Saturday that officers had been called to the property because a young boy was suffering from a “psychological episode and had made threats to some folks with the weapon.”
According to Horrocks, when the boy fled and the police chased after him, one officer fired the weapon and it struck the child. Until medical personnel arrived, officers provided medical aid to the boy. He was then taken to a local hospital, police said.
Golda said that her son had suffered from damage to his shoulder, ankles, intestines, bladder and colon, as well as nerve damage.
At this moment in time, it’s unclear whether or not the teenager actually had a weapon and what threats exactly the police had responded to. However, Golda has insisted that her son was unarmed.
Detective Greg Wilking, a spokesperson for the Salt Lake City Police Department, told CNN on Tuesday that he couldn’t go into detail on whether or not the boy had a weapon or “what the officers’ perceived threats were”. These questions will apparently be answered in an investigation.
Wilking said: “Mom can say whatever she wants, but there’s this investigation that has to happen and this process that has to take place.”
The investigation into the incident will be being conducted by a team consisting of officers from the West Valley City Police Department, which is a suburb of Salt Lake City, both of which are a part of Salt Lake County.
When the investigation is deemed complete, the information will be put forward to the district attorney’s office, who will then conduct their own investigation. The city also has a civilian review board in which complaints are looked at in regards to police conduct.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said in a statement: “While the full details of this incident are yet to be released as an investigation takes place, I will say that I am thankful this young boy is alive and no one else was injured.