Bednar says he drove alongside her while he called police. He says the trooper who arrived called for her to stop, and when she didn’t respond threatened twice to taze her. After giving no response, two little red dots appeared on her back, then metal barbs.
“She seized up and she fell face first on the ground,” said Bednar.
Police claim they warned the girl twice before tasing her. But Bednar was walking around confused and unresponsive, and her father says his daughter has a severe form of autism and doesn’t respond verbally at all. Other state troopers have received calls before about the girl running away from home.
The officers involved have not been suspended and the department says it is investigating the incident. But misuse of excessive force on the mentally ill is a common police problem. A Department of Justice investigation of Portland, Oregon police last year found a “pattern of abuse” and excessive force, including tasing, on the mentally ill. And a study in Maine found that half of those shot by police were mentally ill.
As the mother of a child on the autism spectrum, I'm absolutely horrified by this. Hell, as a mother (and a human being!), period, I'm horrified by this. I also take issue with the labeling of autism as a mental illness, but I think that's the author of the article, not the actual incident (though, who knows).
(Also - in the paragraph that begins "Police claim they warned the girl", the article refers to 'Bednar', when in fact I think it was meant to be 'the girl', since 'Bednar' is the name of the person who found the girl and called it in.)