- A mother in Salt Lake City, Utah called police late Friday to help transport her 13-year-old son with Asperger’s syndrome, which falls under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder, to a hospital during a mental health crisis.
- However, when her son ran from authorities, one officer fired at him several times, causing injuries to his shoulder, both ankles, intestines, and bladder.
- Police said they are investigating but were responding to a “violent psych issue” involving a juvenile who “had made threats to some folks with a weapon.”
- His mother claims she warned them ahead of time, saying: “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.”
- Salt Lake City police have repeatedly come under fire for their use of force this year, and this case has highlighted concerns about police handling mental health calls.
Mother’s Account of What Happened
Police in Salt Lake City, Utah are under fire for how they handled a mental health call involving a minor.
Late Friday, Golda Barton called police to request that a crisis intervention team help transport her 13-year-old son to the hospital for treatment. Her son, Linden Cameron, has Asperger’s syndrome, which falls under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorder, and was experiencing what she described as a “mental breakdown” at the time.
As far as why he was in such distressed, Barton explained that it was the first day she had returned to work after almost of year, and her son struggles with separation anxiety. When on the phone with authorities, she told KUTV that she 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.”
When police arrived, she says she was told to stay where she was while two officers entered the home through the front door. Within minutes, she said she heard voices yelling, “Get down on the ground,” followed by several gunshots.
She told local reporters that officers fired at her son after he tried to run away. She added that her first thought was that her son was dead and noted that officers did not immediately reassure her that he wasn’t. She also claimed that her son was put in handcuffs.
Police Account of the Incident
As far as how authorities have described the incident, in a press briefing early Saturday, Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Keith Horrocks said officers were called to the scene shortly after 10 p.m.
He said they were responding to a “violent psych issue” involving a juvenile who “had made threats to some folks with a weapon.” Without naming Cameron, he said the boy fled from the address and one officer fired at him during a “short foot pursuit.”
When asked by reporters if a weapon was recovered, he said there was no indication that the subject had a weapon, but stressed that the investigation was in its early stages. That’s something another department spokesperson later told CNN, saying: “Mom can say whatever she wants, but there’s this investigation that has to happen and this process that has to take place.”
On the scene, Officers rendered aid to Cameron until he was taken to the hospital in serious condition. According to a GoFundMe page created by a family friend, the boy suffered injuries to his shoulder, both ankles, intestines, and bladder.
“The long term effects of his injuries are still unknown, but it is likely that his recovery will be long and require multiple kinds of treatment,” the page reads.
Shooting Sparks Conversations About Police Responding Mental Health Calls
When speaking to KUTV, Barton criticized police for how they handled the incident, questioning why they didn’t use less aggressive tactics.
“Why didn’t they tase him? Why didn’t they shoot him with a rubber bullet?” He’s a small child. Why don’t you just tackle him? You are big police officers with massive amounts of resources. Come on, give me a break,” she said.
Now, this case has added to the widespread frustrations with police, and it’s being used to highlight concerns about officers responding to mental health calls.
According to research by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, people with disabilities, including those on the autism spectrum, are disproportionately injured in interactions with the police and are five times more likely to be incarcerated than people in the general population.
Neurodiverse Utah, a grassroots organization that promotes autism acceptance and self-advocacy, said in a Facebook statement that people are less likely to be able to think rationally and respond promptly when they are experiencing a mental health crisis.
“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,” it added.
As for what comes next with this case, the department stated Tuesday that the investigation is being conducted by “a protocol team made up of officers from multiple agencies with no ties to the Salt Lake City Police Department.”
The city’s review board and the police department’s internal affairs division will also conduct “parallel separate investigations.” Police said they did not anticipate having any further updates until bodycam footage is released, which occurs within 10 business days from the incident.
Still, those statements have done little to help ease concerns since police in the city are already heavily criticized by members of the community. The city is still reeling the fatal police shooting of Bernardo Palacios Carbajal, who was struck by bullets 13-15 times when running from police while armed.
Protests broke out in early July after the district attorney’s office determined that the shooting was justified, prompting Gov. Gary Herbert to declare a state of emergency.
Then in August, authorities suspended the use of police dogs in arrests after one bit a man named Jeffrey Ryans while he was on one knee with his hands in the air.
Last month, the city’s mayor Erin Mendenhall signed an executive order that aimed to restrict the use of force by police and promote de-escalation tactics, among other reforms. It was to take effect no later than Saturday, the day after Cameron was shot.
As far as this specific incident, Mendenhall issued a statement Sunday saying, “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.”
“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.”
See what others are saying: (NPR) (KUTV) (The New York Times)
U.S. Pledges To Donate 500 Million More Vaccines Globally
The announcement comes as wealthy nations face pressure to help lower-income countries deal with the pandemic and as American vaccine makers face calls to share their technology.
Biden Promises More Vaccines
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the U.S. will purchase 500 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for countries in need, bringing the total number of U.S. vaccine donations to more than 1.1 billion.
Biden’s pledge, which was made at a virtual COVID-19 summit, comes as world leaders and organizations have criticized wealthy nations for not doing enough to help lower-income countries deal with the pandemic. Many have also slammed countries like the U.S. for moving forward with plans for booster shots while so much of the world remains unvaccinated.
According to the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data project, of the six billion shots administered globally, nearly 80% percent have been given in high- and upper-middle-income countries compared to just 0.5% in low-income countries.
While several wealthy nations begin to give booster shots, just 2% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.
Pressure Grows for American Companies to Share Vaccine Technology
It’s not just wealthy countries and their leaders that are being met with criticism over the massive vaccination gap. There is also a lot of growing pressure on American drug companies to share their formulas with manufacturers in poor nations that need more doses.
Senior officials told The New York Times that the Biden administration privately asked Pfizer and Moderna to engage in joint ventures where they license their technology to contract manufacturers in an effort to provide vaccines to low- and middle-income nations.
While those conversations reportedly prompted Pfizer to sell the U.S. the 500 million doses announced this Wednesday at a not-for-profit price, the company still refused to license its technology.
Meanwhile, the alleged discussions appear to have had no impact at all on Moderna.
Many have argued the Moderna has even more of an obligation to share its technology given that it was developed in part by the National Institutes of Health. On top of that, the company accepted an additional $2.5 billion in taxpayer money as part of Operation Warp Speed.
In a statement to The Times on Tuesday, a Moderna spokeswoman said that the company had agreed not to enforce its COVID-related patents and was “willing to license our intellectual property for Covid-19 vaccines to others for the post pandemic period.”
But experts say that vaccine technology is needed now, not when the pandemic is over.
Many have argued that Biden should put more pressure on the companies to share their intellectual property, including some legal experts who said he could compel them to do so using the Defense Production Act, which gives the president broad emergency powers.
Administration officials, however, have argued that forcing the companies to share the information is more complicated, and any efforts to do so would result in legal battles that will ultimately be counterproductive.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Wall Street Journal)
Texas Doctor Says He Violated Abortion Law, Opening Matter Up for Litigation
Under the state’s new law, any citizen could sue the doctor, which would make the matter the first known test case of the restrictive policy.
Dr. Braid’s Op-Ed
A Texas doctor revealed in an op-ed published in The Washington Post Saturday that he performed an abortion in violation of the state’s law that bans the procedure after six weeks, before most people know they are pregnant.
The law, which is the most restrictive in the country and does not have exceptions for rape and incest, also allows civilians to sue anyone who helps someone receive an abortion after six weeks.
In the op-ed, Dr. Alan Braid, who has been practicing as an OB/GYN in Texas for 45 years, said that just days after the law took effect, he gave an abortion to a woman who was still in her first trimester but already beyond the state’s new limit.
“I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care,” he wrote. “I fully understood that there could be legal consequences — but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested.”
Braid went on to say that he understands he is taking a personal risk but that he believes it is worth it.
“I have daughters, granddaughters and nieces,” he concluded. “I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. I have spent the past 50 years treating and helping patients. I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”
If someone does opt to sue Braid over this matter, he could potentially be the state’s first test case in playing out the legal process. However, it is unclear if anti-abortion groups will follow through, despite their threats to enforce the law.
A spokesperson for Texas Right to Life, which set up a website to report people suspected of violating the ban, told reporters this weekend that it is looking into Braid’s claims but added, “It definitely seems like a legal stunt and we are looking into whether it is more than that.”
Even if abortion opponents hold off on Braid’s case, there are other legal challenges to the Texas law.
Shortly after the policy took effect, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit attempting to stop it. Last week, the department filed an emergency motion asking a federal judge in the state to temporarily block the ban while that legal battle plays out, with a hearing for that motion set for Oct. 1.
Regardless of what side the federal judge rules for, the other is all but ensured to sue, and that fight could take the question to the Supreme Court in a matter of months.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Texas Tribune) (The Wall Street Journal)
Pfizer Says Low Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine Is Safe and Effective in Kids 5 to 11
Pfizer Says Kids’ Vaccine Works
Pfizer announced Monday morning that its joint COVID-19 vaccine with BioNTech is safe and effective in kids ages 5 to 11.
While Pfizer’s vaccine candidate for younger children is the same version the FDA has already approved for people 12 and older, the children’s dose is only one-third of the amount given to adults and teens. Still, Pfizer said the antibody response they’ve seen in kids has been comparable to the response seen in older participants.
Similarly, the company said side effects in children have been similar to those witnessed in adults.
Pfizer said it expects to finish submitting data, which still needs to be peer-reviewed and then published, to the FDA by the end of the month. From there, the agency will ensure that Pfizer’s findings are accurate and that the vaccine will be able to elicit a strong immune response in kids at its current one-third dosage.
That process could take weeks or even all of October, but it does open the possibility that the vaccine candidate could be approved around Halloween.
While experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have called Pfizer’s announcement largely predictable, they’ve also urged people to let the research run its course.
With cases among children skyrocketing in recent months, some parents have begun urging pediatricians to give their children the jab early. Those kinds of requests are likely to increase with Pfizer’s announcement; however, officials have warned parents about acting too quickly.
“No one should really be freelancing — they should wait for the appropriate approval and recommendations to decide how best to manage their own children’s circumstances,” Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development, said according to The Washington Post.