BUCKEYE, Ariz. (KSAZ) - Buckeye Police released, on Monday, body camera footage surrounding an officer's confrontation with an autistic teenager that happened in July.
The officer reportedly thought the teen was doing drugs in a park, and tried to confront him. The officer, however, quickly learned that wasn't the case.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a million people in the U.S. under the age of 21 have Autism, but not everyone knows what it looks like. Buckeye Police officials admitted they could have handled the situation better, but also said that the officer had reasonable suspicion to encounter the teen.
Video taken by the body camera showed a 30-second encounter between the officer and the teen. Before the entire incident unfolded, the 14-year-old gave police a huge clue that he was Autistic, and the officer missed it.
"What are you doing?" asked the officer, who was off-screen.
"I'm stimming," replied the teenager. Stimming, according to CDC, is a symptoms of autism.
"Watching it, it was real apparent that the officer had no idea that he was dealing with somebody with autism," said Melissa Van Hook, who is the mother of two autistic boys, has family in law enforcement, and studied psychology.
"We train officers with what happened in this incident, in hopes of doing things differently," said Det. Tamela Skaggs with Buckeye Police.
Seconds after the encounter, a family member alerts the officer as to the teen's autism. From there, the situation quickly dissipated.
The East Valley Autism Network said that Buckeye Police has reached out, and dialogue for training is in the works for officers.