An autistic Black boy in Virginia was handcuffed on the ground during an after-school tennis program run by the local police department.
Shelia Jackson told 6 News Richmond that she signed up her son, who was not publicly named, into an athletics program run by officers from the Richmond Police Department in an effort to have her son feel more comfortable around cops.
Mother Arrives To Police-Run Tennis Lessons To Find Autistic Black Son Handcuffed On The Ground
Instead, she says she arrived to find her son surrounded by officers as he was handcuffed and on the ground.
“I wanted him to have a positive view of police officers and not all the negativity he sees on TV,” Shelia Jackson told 6 News Richmond.
Jackson went on to say she signed him up for him for the after-school tennis program at Virginia Commonwealth University, where officers from the Richmond Police Department volunteer through the Richmond Police Athletic League, according to the outlet.
But on Nov. 3, Jackson arrived to pick up her son to find the shocking scene as it unfolded.
Cops in Virginia handcuffed a 12-year-old with autism and gave him a concussion at an after-school tennis program. Sheila Jackson says her son knows how to walk away from situations and self-regulate, but when a cop raised their voice at him and he walked away, they detained him. pic.twitter.com/DXVNsF7Wla
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) December 31, 2022
“We ended up going to VCU emergency room. They diagnosed him with a TBI concussion,” Jackson said.
Staff Attempts To Explain Away Incident, But Leave More Questions Than Answers
Jackson added that staff at the tennis program had been getting frustrated on his serves, prompting them to tell him to practice off the the side of the courts. What happens next remains unclear, she’s says.
She did say her son told her one of the police officers began to yell at him, and he walked away from her in response.
“He knows to try to self-regulate and walk away from a situation, she may have thought he was being defiant,” Jackson said.
It’s not immediately clear if the officers involved in the incident were aware of the boy’s autism, but what is clear is the the situation escalated to the point of her son being handcuffed.
“When I got here my son was handcuffed on the ground right behind where that fence is opened,” Jackson said. “There was an officer holding his head, there was an officer on his left leg, someone on his right leg, there was an officer on his right side kneeling holding his shoulders down and then there was another officer standing up.”
Police Department Say Boy Head-Butted Officer As They Restrained Him, But Failed To Say Why He Was Restrained
Jackson says the police department told her that her son head-butted an officer as they tried to restrain him, but did not explain why he was retrained in the first place.
“That is not how he should be dealt with, not only my son, anyone,” she said. “Where is the training? Are you just going to the training and you’re not taking it in?”
Her son ultimately ended up with a concussion, and she still has no idea what prompted the incident and how he was exactly injured.
The mother told the outlet that she has attempted to seek answers numerous times from the Richmond Police Department, but has yet to get an answer to her questions.
She even paid $5 for a copy of the police report, however it did not have an incident description, according to 6 News Richmond.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Richmond Police Department said they are now conducting an internal investigation, and added they could not provide any more details at this time.
WOW. Why did Richmond (VA) officers handcuff an autistic 12-yo Black child during an after-school athletics program? His mother signed him up hoping to foster a positive relationship with police who were volunteering. Unfortunately, an incident left him with a TBI concussion!
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) January 4, 2023
Investigation Into The Incident Ongoing Department Says, While Boy Continues To Deal With Trauma
That investigation is ongoing.
Jackson says her son is has since been dealing with trauma from the incident, having gone from receiving top grades in his middle school class to struggling just to make it through the school day, the outlet reports.
“As soon as the concussion it’s like bam bam bam. I’m like ‘oh my gosh’ it’s something every day,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s son was not arrested, but questions over his treatment remain unanswered.
VCU Police said they responded to a disturbance call involving a juvenile and Richmond Police. However when they arrived, neither the juvenile nor their parent was at the scene.