An autistic 10-year-old Florida boy was forced to spend the night in a juvenile detention facility after he was handcuffed and arrested by Okeechobee County school resource deputies last week.
According to the Luanne Haygood, her son, John Benji Haygood, suffers from autism. On footage she filmed from the scene, the boy can be seen sitting in a chair with his left hand covering his eyes, distressed, as his mother attempts to figure out why “heroes” wish to arrest him.
“Does he have the same rights as an adult?” Luanne Haygood asks.
“He has a warrant,” one “hero” can be heard responding.
John can then be heard saying through tears that he doesn’t want to be touched as two “heroes” take hold of his arms and handcuff him. According to Autism Speaks, not wanting to be touched can be a symptom of autism.
The boy continues to cry and cuss as the “heroes” lead him out of the school building. ”
“He has autism, he doesn’t know what’s going on,” Luanne Haygood can be heard telling one of the cops. “He has autism. He’s 10-years-old.”
Luanne Haygood maintains that cops and school employees need to be better prepared to deal with children with special needs however. She said, “unfortunately, instead of treating or accommodating, we arrest.”
After spending the night at the Fort Pierce juvenile facility, John was released to his mother after a court appearance last Thursday.
Video report of incident: