A 10-year-old boy with autism was arrested, charged with a third-degree felony, and spent the night in juvenile detention.
Disturbingly, the arrest occurred at school, where John Benjamin Haywood’s mother had taken him for a standardized test.
“I didn’t know I was going to get arrested like this,” John Benjamin told the officers. “I don’t want to be touched. Please don’t touch me.”
“I know, honey,” his mother; Luanne Haywood, can be heard saying on the video. “He has autism — he doesn’t know what’s going on, he’s scared to death, he’s 10 years old!”
The boy was arrested on April 12 for an incident that occurred in October at Okeechobee Achievement Academy in Florida, The Washington Post reported. The boy allegedly kicked and scratched the educational assistant who was working with him.
That prompted Okeechobee County schools to charge him with “battery on a school board employee” – a third-degree felony.
After the arrest, the boy was taken to a juvenile detention facility where he spent the night. His mother offered to go with officers in the police car, but they refused.
Prosecutor Abigail Albright told The Post that she plans to offer John Benjamin a “non-judicial sanction” which would probably mean counseling rather than criminal charges. Luanne Haywood vowed to fight that.
“It appears the school’s responses are beyond wrong and evil,” Scott Badesch, the president of Autism Society America, told The Post. “It is a tremendous failure by two allegedly responsible institutions — the police and the school.”
Badesch’s organization is planning to help the Haygoods with support services and legal counsel.
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