Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Resources for Families and First Responders Following North Miami Shooting

At CAR, we have been following the news coverage of the disturbing incident late last week in North Miami in which a police officer shot the Charles Kinsey, the caregiver of a 26-year-old man with autism named Arnaldo Eliud Rios Soto . While the media coverage of the shooting has raised many concerns about police -community relations, most if it has missed the key point: unlike other recent police-involved shootings, this one was precipitated by an officer's misunderstanding of behaviors common in people with autism.

When Arnaldo, who had run away from the community home where he lived, did not respond to the officer's commands to lie on the ground, the officer mistook Arnaldo's toy truck for a gun, and shot, missing Arnaldo but hitting his caregiver, Charles Kinsey, in the leg. Kinsey is recovering, but Arnaldo was severely traumatized by the shooting and by being taken into police custody afterward..

It's clear that we have a long way to go to educate and prepare first responders- and our loved ones with ASD- about what to expect during an encounter. Training and practice is required on both sides in order to avoid the physical and traumatic harm that resulted from the recent encounter in North Miami. 

We are pleased that Pennsylvania enacted a law in 2015 requiring officers to receive training on best practices for situations involving people with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, or mental illness.

Here are some resources we are recommending for families and for law enforcement:


       Policy Support: 

    • Read the Autism Self-Advocacy Network’s Statement, which supports House Bill 2302, which would reduce funding for law enforcement departments that do not provide specialized training for first responders.

    For families:
o   BE SAFE The Movie uses video modeling to show viewers how to interact with the police in everyday encounters.

    For first-responders: