A 10- year-old-boy with autism was caught on video crying and pleading before two police officers who ambushed and arrested him.
John Benji Haywood showed up at the Okeechobee Achievement Academy for a standardized test when two police officers took him under arrest.
His crime: in 2016, he was suspended for attacking a school staff member who Benji’s mother described as a 6ft 4inches man, weighing about 300 pounds. After being homebound for several months, on the day of rejoining the academy he was subjected to this horror.
Benji’s mother, Luanne Haywood filmed the distressing video. While she knew her son was suspended for attacking a staff school member, she had no idea that an arrest warrant was issued in his name. The boy was charged with third-degree felony charges after being accused of battery of a school employee.
“I don’t want to be touched. Please don’t touch me. I don’t know what’s going on,” said a visibly frustrated Benji.
Haywood who was naturally worried for her son, asked the officers for an explanation. “Can you tell me what is going on? Or have any paperwork that you can show me? Excuse me?”
Both the officers ignored her question, moving towards the patrol car. Haywood tried explaining them about her son’s medical condition —but they still handcuffed him.
“He has autism. He doesn't know what's going on, he's scared to death and he's 10 years old.”
The helpless mother can be heard reassuring her son that everything will be fine. But things didn’t really turn out in their favor. Benji had to spend the night in a juvenile facility before being released the next morning on house arrest.
While talking to local media, Haywood admitted her son’s mistake but clarified that he had behavioral issues earlier because of autism. “It was because of his autism that spurred this incident,” she said. “And he was arrested for that.”
“Unfortunately, instead of treating or accommodating we arrest because we don’t know what else to do,” she lamented.
Even though the incident occurred last year, deputies couldn’t serve the arrest paperwork until last week. However the sheriff’s office and prosecutors claimed they didn’t know about Benji’s autism condition. The state’s attorney has now said it will be considered as they look into the case.
He is scheduled to appear in court on May 11.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters