Golda Barton dialed 911 hoping emergency responders could help her 13-year-old son, who has Asperger syndrome and was having a mental crisis.
But instead, a Salt Lake City police officer repeatedly shot Linden Cameron after he ran away, leaving the boy in serious condition with injuries to his intestines, bladder, shoulder and ankles.
Barton says he was unarmed, and police said they didn’t find a weapon at the scene. His mother said in an emotional interview with KUTV,
“He’s a small child. Why didn’t you just tackle him? He’s a baby. He has mental issues.”
Mayor Erin Mendenhal told the Salt Lake Tribune,
“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.”
Local autism advocates also decried the shooting and called for changes to how police respond to mental health crises. Neurodiverse Utah said in a statement,
“Police were called because help was needed but instead more harm was done when officers from the SLPD expected a 13-year-old experiencing a mental health episode to act calmer and collected than adult trained officers.”
Barton wrote in a GoFundMe for his medical bills that her son is a boy who loves
“video games, four wheeling, and longboarding” and “is always looking for ways to help people out.”
He battled severe separation anxiety when she leaves him alone and Friday was her first day back at work in almost a year.
“You call them, and they’re supposed to come out and be able to de-escalate a situation using the most minimal force possible.”
“I said, ‘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.”
Police told her to stay outside while they entered her house, she said. Barely five minutes later, she said she heard them ordering her son to the ground and then, a volley of gunfire.
Barton said after the shooting, her son was handcuffed and police couldn’t tell her whether he was dead.
“Why didn’t they Tase him? Why didn’t they shoot him with a rubber bullet?
You are big police officers with massive amounts of resources. Come on. Give me a break.”
Nationwide, police have seriously injured and killed scores of mentally ill people when called by relatives or bystanders to help.
Who is Training Trigger Happy Police⁉️Linden Cameron, 13-year-old autistic boy, shot by Salt Lake City police during mental crisis – The Washington Post https://t.co/2FqSm8MXHV— Jude Green (@judemgreen) September 8, 2020