Family with Autistic Child Harassed for Using Disabled Parking Spot
Seven-year-old Joey Avalos and his family were harassed for parking in a spot that they were legally allowed to use because of his autism:
After they finished eating at the restaurant the day before Father's Day, a man driving a hunter-green pickup pulled up behind them. With the engine running, he identified himself as a fire marshal and flashed a badge. Joey covered his ears to muffle the engine noise.
"He then asked us, 'Do you know that that's a handicapped spot?' " Samantha Avalos said. " 'Yes.' I told him. 'Not that it's any matter for you to judge us, but we have an autistic child.' "
The exchange got heated as they tried to explain autism to the man, and Avalos said at one point, they told him to call the police if he thought they were doing something illegal.
The man relented, but not before telling them, "I'm just letting you know this is my job and I'm supposed to enforce parking situations, and your situation is one where you can walk and there were other spots open close to the restaurant."
Chesapeake fire marshal Mike Hoag denies that any of his deputies would have done this:
"It sounds like someone with either a power trip or a beef because they were parking there," he said. "We're here to help people out - not intimidate people or make them feel bad about what they're doing