In a recent incident that unfolded in West Yorkshire, United Kingdom, an autistic teenage girl was arrested after making a comment to a police officer that the cop resembled her lesbian grandmother.
The entire event, which has sparked a debate on police treatment of individuals with neurodiversity, was captured on video, with quotes revealing the tension between the girl’s mother and the police.
“She’s getting arrested,” a West Yorkshire police officer informed the teenager’s mother.
When the mother responded with, “She’s autistic,” the officer responded, “I don’t care.”
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can sometimes result in misunderstandings, especially from those who are neurotypical. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that individuals with ASD might have unique ways of learning, moving or paying attention. This can sometimes lead to challenges in social interactions, speech, and non-verbal communication.
The video showed the teenager in distress, hitting herself in the head, prompting her mother to urge the officers to maintain distance.
She explained, “She’s in her cupboard, she can’t go anywhere,” emphasizing the triggering effect direct contact had on her child.
Explaining that the child’s grandmother is a lesbian and is married to a woman, she urged, “Go away. She’s not homophobic.”
The police had initially been called by a relative who reported that the girl was intoxicated at a nearby shopping hub.
A statement from the police read, “Upon returning her to the address, comments were made which resulted in the girl being arrested on suspicion of a homophobic public order offense. The nature of the comments made was fully captured on body-worn video.”
West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Oz Khan stated, “West Yorkshire Police takes its responsibilities around the welfare of young people taken into custody and around neurodiversity very seriously.” He also emphasized that officers should not face “abuse” while ensuring community safety.
Contrary to Khan’s statement, the mother painted a grim picture of the events, claiming that her daughter’s comment was misunderstood, leading to unnecessary escalation.
“The officer then entered my home and assaulted me,” she claimed. “My daughter was having panic attacks from being touched by them, and they still continued to manhandle her.”
Days after the autistic child’s arrest, police issued a statement, explaining, “West Yorkshire Police has now reviewed the evidence and made the decision to take no further action. This concludes the criminal investigation and immediately releases the girl from her bail. Her family has been updated.”
This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.