Young man with Asperger’s syndrome responds appropriately to police

From Copblock.org.

Reginald “Neli” Latson, a 19 year-old, sat in the grass outside the library and waited for it to open. Police allege that shortly after, some children purportedly were frightened and claimed there was a suspicious black male who had had a gun. A nearby school was put on lockdown, and a search ensued. Deputy Calverley then approached Latson, squeezed the front pocket of his sweatshirt and checked for a gun. No gun was found. The children questioned later also confirmed they never saw a gun. Calverly asked Latson for his name, and Latson refused. Calverly then grabbed Latson and attempted to arrest him. Latson struggled with Calverly, managed to flip him over, and caused Calverly’s head to hit the pavement. Latson hit Calverly several times and took his pepper spray.

After a 3-day trial, Latson was found guilty of assaulting a law enforcement officer, among other charges and 10 1/2 years in prison was recommended (read the full story here). Latson’s defense centered around the fact that he has Asperger’s syndrome, a condition caused by an abnormality of the brain. People with Asperger’s syndrome often have difficulty interacting socially, and may be unable to respond emotionally in normal social interactions.

Latson’s case has drawn sympathy from autism and Asperger’s syndrome advocates, and raised concerns about how law enforcement deals with the developmentally or mentally disabled. Surely, this case is a sad one. It appears to be another classic case of a young, innocent black man getting screwed because he wore a hoodie and was in the wrong place at the wrong time – and on top of that, he had a condition that may have contributed to these circumstances.

Read the whole story here.

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