Police in Utah are facing heavy scrutiny after officers shot a 13-year-old autistic boy whose mother had called them for help. The mom reportedly notified police when her son had a shouting episode due to separation anxiety. Now, newly released bodycam footage shows the responding officers gunning the boy down as he ran away.
The incident occurred on Friday, September 4, when mom Golda Barton called the police about her son, Linden Cameron. Barton told news outlets that Cameron’s condition causes him to suffer “bad separation anxiety” when she’s away. Because of this, Barton had not been to work in nearly a year — until that day.
The mom says her return to work distressed Cameron to the point of triggering a mental episode. Overwhelmed, Barton called police to ask for a crisis intervention team (CIT).
“I said, ‘He’s unarmed, he doesn’t have anything, he just gets mad and he starts yelling and screaming,'” Barton said. “He’s a kid, he’s trying to get attention. He doesn’t know how to regulate.”
When police arrived, they reportedly told Barton to wait outside while two officers went in the house to investigate. Within five minutes, however, she said she heard police yelling “get down on the ground,” followed by several gunshots.
While Barton immediately feared the worst, she says police would not initially say whether or not Cameron was dead.
According to a statement from Salt Lake City Police (SLCPD), Cameron was transported to a local hospital following the incident. He is still recovering from injuries to his shoulder, both ankles, intestines and bladder, reports The Guardian.
SLCPD Sargent Keith Horrocks said that police had received a report of a juvenile having a “violent psych episode.” He also said officers were under the impression that Cameron “had made threats to some folks with a weapon.”
Police did not say how or when officers got the idea that Cameron was armed. However, they did confirm that no weapons were found at the scene.
“He’s a small child,” Barton admonished police. “Why didn’t you just tackle him? He’s a baby. He has mental issues.”
On Sunday, September 6, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall issued a statement promising a full investigation.
“While the full details of this incident are yet to be released as an investigation takes place, I will say that I am thankful this young boy is alive and no one else was injured,” Mendenhall said. “No matter the circumstances, what happened on Friday night is a tragedy, and I expect this investigation to be handled swiftly and transparently for the sake of everyone involved.”
Meanwhile, police have released no further details about what led to the shooting. However, a Salt Lake City ordinance requires the department to release body cam footage of the encounter within 10 days.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Cameron’s family with medical costs. Currently, the fund has raised just over $40,000 of a $50,000 donation goal.
UPDATE 9/22/2020 — Body Camera Footage Released
The Salt Late City Police department has released body cam footage from multiple officers involved in the shooting. The Salt Lake City Tribune recounted details of the footage, including discussions the officers had beforehand on how to handle the situation.
“We could call the sergeant,” suggested one officer, “and tell him the situation. Because I’m not about to get in a shooting because he’s upset.”
“Yeah, especially when he hates cops, it’s going to end in a shooting,” replied another officer, who reportedly ended up shooting Cameron.
Subsequent footage shows police pursuing Cameron from the house, down and alley, and onto a sidewalk. After Cameron ignores calls to get down on the ground, officers fire eleven shots at him.
“I don’t feel good,” the teenager says moments later. “Tell my mom I love her.”
WARNING: The following footage contains graphic content that might be upsetting.