A 13-year-old autistic boy sustained severe injuries after being shot by a police officer in Salt Lake City on Friday night, according to the victim's mother. Golda Barton, the mother of Linden Cameron, said that police fired multiple rounds at her son who suffers from Asperger's after she called for a crisis intervention team (CIT) when Cameron started suffering severe separation anxiety over her going back to work.
According to authorities, an officer fired at the boy while responding to a call about a "violent psych issue," prompting an investigation and raising concerns about officers' use of force in a city that has been reckoning with protests and police accountability.
Barton said that she was going to join work after almost a year and Cameron was having problem coping with the separation. Unable to pacify her autistic son, Barton decided to call the police and asked for a CIT to help her manage the situation and get her son treatment. According to Barton, police told her the CIT would 'deescalate the situation using the most minimal force possible' at her home in the Glendale neighborhood.
Barton also said that she had clearly mentioned about her son's health and that the situation needed delicate handling. "I said, 'Look, he's unarmed. He doesn't have anything. He just gets mad and he starts yelling and screaming. He's a kid he's trying to get attention. He doesn't know how to regulate," Barton claims to have told the police.
However, by the time police arrived, Cameron had run away from the house. Police immediately chased him and within less than five minutes, Barton said, she heard an officer shout at the boy 'get on the ground,' before firing multiple shots at him. One of the officers opened fire and injured the boy, who is white, with gunshots to the shoulder, intestine, bladder and ankle.
According to Barton, she had almost pleaded to the officers saying, 'He's a small child. Why didn't you just tackle him? He's a baby. He has mental issues.' But they didn't pay heed to her requests and instead told her to wait outside while they entered the property and then soon after fired at him. However, Barton claims to have heard at least one of the officers saying to the other: 'He's just a child, what are you doing?'
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said in a statement on Sunday: '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.
Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Keith Horrocks said that following the shooting, officers called paramedics and provided medical aid to the boy until medical personnel arrived. Cameron, who remains in hospital, is still in critical condition and police have started an investigation into the incident.
It wasn't immediately clear if the boy actually had a weapon, or exactly what threats police were said to be responding to. The incident is being investigated by a team consisting primarily of officers from the West Valley City Police Department, which is a part of the Salt Lake County. Cameron's father drove down from Iowa immediately after hearing the news and is next to his autistic son in the hospital.