Jonesville Police Chief Brian Corbett has resigned after hitting 8-year-old Eli Kolodie with a baton after the autistic boy ran away from school:
Corbett was put on paid administrative leave in March as State Police investigated a mother's complaint he used excessive force on her 8-year-old son, who has autism. As we reported in March, the child took off from his school's playground and was put in handcuffs and hit with a baton after the Police Chief caught up with him. At the time, Corbett did not know the boy had autism and told us he would've reacted differently had he known.
After hearing about the chief's resignation, the boy's mother says it has helped to bring some closure to what happened to her son.
"I think it's a really good indicator to the rest of his team that this is not tolerated, that grown men are not allowed to hit children," said Kristen Kolodie.
Seventh grader Michael Levi has Asperger's syndrome:
“I get stressed out,” Michael said. “Anger is hard. So is sadness. And I get really excited. Asperger’s can be a gift and a curse.”
Michael has done well in school, finishing his seventh grade year in a mainstream setting with straight A's. Part of the reason for his success has been the support he has gotten from Syracuse Police Officer Stan Penrod:
At the last midterm, Michael showed Penrod his grades. At that time, he had A’s in five of the seven subjects, the others being an A minus and a B.
“I told him, ‘Dude, there was no reason you can’t get straight A’s. Dude, if you get straight A’s, it’s worthy of a shake, your choice,’ ” Penrod said.
Police in Johnston, Iowa, used a taser and handcuffs on autistic teenager John Pilmer when they were called to a fight at a local movie theater:
"Officers were called up there regarding two teenagers fighting in the lobby," Johnston Police Department Lt. Lynn Aswegan said.
But when Officer Cale McClain walked inside, authorities said he was attacked.
"The officer was immediately attacked. His Taser was knocked away from him, and his hand was broken during the altercation," Aswegan said.
Investigators said McClain tried desperately to subdue Pilmer.
"One of the youth's friends walks up to the officer (and) tells (him) the youth is 15 years old and is autistic," Aswegan said. "They told him 15 times to stop resisting. They told him nine times to calm down."
But investigators said Pilmer continued to fight, and four officers tried but failed to gain control, so they used a Taser gun to end the ordeal.
John is still in police custody. His parents are so upset about the way the incident has been handled that his father was also arrested:
John Pilmer’s father was also arrested Friday night after being accused of threatening to use a Taser gun against the officers who took his son into custody.
The Cook Country State Attorney's office cleared the two police officers who shot and killed autistic teenager Stephon Watts of any wrongdoing after reviewing an independent investigation by the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Task Force. Police say that the use of force was necessary because Stephon lunged at them with a nine-inch steak knife:
The family disputed that. They said the teen was just holding a butter knife and that deadly force wasn't necessary. Watts' mother, Danelene Watts, said the knife her son was holding didn't at all resemble the knife shown in a photo released Tuesday by Calumet City police.
"My husband knows. I know. His brother knows what kind of knife it was. We were there," she said. "My son has been murdered by trained police officers. ... A great injustice was done to my baby."
Stephon's sister Renee contacted me-- she is especially interested in hearing from other autistic people who have suffered violence at the hands of police and from their families. Her family has set up a site for him here.
Last month, I told you that John Bessinger was upset after deputies at the Grand Rapids Courthouse handcuffed his autistic son Johnathan and took him into custody. Now you can see video of the incident:
The video shows Johnathan fighting with his father John and then raising his fist at a deputy as he made a second pass through a metal detector at a security checkpoint.
The deputy pushed Johnathan against the glass, but the young man can be seen fighting back against officers and his father, who was trying to calm him down.