Mom videotaped her autistic son’s arrest who is taken into handcuffs for assault.
10-year-old John Haygood, who is autistic, was arrested earlier this month at a school in Florida. Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects a person’s behavior and interactions with others. His mother videotaped her son’s the arrest on her cell phone. The boy seemed confused as he was put into handcuffs and escorted from the school. Officers initially refused to respond to Luanne Haygood, the boy’s mother as she begs, “Excuse me, do you have any paperwork or anything you can say to me?”
John was arrested on felony charges for an incident that occurred in October, in which he was allegedly disrupting the classroom by throwing paper balls around. The teacher had asked John to go to time out, but he refused. He then began hitting other children and punching and kicking his teacher, leaving scratch marks. John had apparently, according to the police report, made threats to the same teacher previously. On November 1st, the teacher decided to pursue criminal charges after determining that John “had been given plenty of opportunities to change his behavior and had not.”
John is shown on the footage asking desperately for an explanation. “I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t understand,” he said. He had been completing his school work from home since the October incident and hadn’t returned to school until Wednesday April 12th when set to take a standardized test. The report stated that John “was not being compliant and refused to test.” After John was given the time to decide to complete the test, an officer notified his mother that her son had an active warrant and needed to be placed under arrest. “I know what happened six month ago,” Luanne said of her son’s capture after he was released, but she added that she was never warned of the warrant. “I never seen an arrest report, I never saw the charges. I just know what was told that he may or may not press charges.”
John didn’t appreciate the officer’s motion to take him to the patrol car. “Don’t touch me. I don’t like to be touched,” he said, which is a common response from someone with autism, as Luanne desperately contested her son’s circumstances. He was placed under formal arrest and transported to a juvenile detention center where he was scheduled for a court hearing the following day. He appeared and was released. He is set to appear again on May 11th.
In a formal statement, the school district said of the incident, squashing any assumptions regarding a plan for Luanne’s son’s arrest: “It has been district procedure to invite students in to take the Florida Standards Assessment. The district would not invite someone to one of our campuses for the sole purpose to arrest. The district routinely assists students by provided services from our board certified behavioral analyst, licensed mental health counselors, school social workers, and psychologists. As as team, these individuals develop interventions, conduct assessments, and offer support both at school and in the home in order to assist students and families. The district is unable to provide specific information as to both current and past incidents regarding this or any other student due to educational laws and rules. It is our hope that we can continue to work with all families to help their students improve both behaviorally and academically.”