Reading while black and autistic leads to arrest

10 Jun

Reginald Latson, an 18-year-old Virginia man with Asperger’s syndrome, faces one count of malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer, one count of assault and battery of a law enforcement officer, and one count of knowingly disarming a police officer in performance of his official duties, following an incident in a high school parking lot.

Stafford County deputies received a report of an armed person outside of a library, which prompted a lock down of six schools in Stafford County, including a high school.

From WJLA in Washington, DC:

Stafford County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Bill Kennedy says it all began at 8:38 a.m. with the report of an armed person in the parking lot of a library across from Park Ridge Elementary. The threat prompted a lockdown of six schools in Stafford County, including the high school, which is separated from the library and elementary school area by a wooded area.

Kennedy says deputies saturated the area after the call. About 20 minutes later, a Stafford High School resource officer spotted a man matching the description of the lookout. While the man was being questioned, he became irate and attacked the school resource officer, who is also a sheriff’s deputy, investigators said.

The man repeatedly struck the deputy, who pepper-sprayed the man, according to the Sheriff’s office. During the struggle, the assailant was able to wrest the pepper spray for the deputy and sprayed him, investigators said.

The man then fled. The deputy, Thomas Calverley, suffered head laceration, cuts, abrasions and a broken ankle. He was scheduled for surgery on the ankle this afternoon.

Latson was located in the woods about 45 minutes later by a canine officer and his dog, Vader. Investigators never found a gun, and now say the initial caller never actually saw a weapon.

Latson is currently being held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail under no bond.

You can read more about the case at this website started by Neli’s family.

“The actions that were taken by the police that day were excessive in the least and grossly mishandled,” writes Neli’s mother. “Someone says I see a suspicious black male and he “could” have a gun, while all my son was doing was sitting in the grass at the library. And you shut down six schools and go out on a manhunt for this dangerous black man who was sitting in the grass. Anyone reading this story can read between the lines and see that this just doesn’t add up.”

You can read the Stafford County Sheriff Dept. news release here.

14 Responses to “Reading while black and autistic leads to arrest”

  1. livsparents June 10, 2010 at 17:59 #

    Nope, nothing on the Sheriff’s department to say that they undergo any training on identifying, understanding, or preventing dangerous escalations for autistics or any type of training in this area for that matter. They do project Lifesaver, but I guess when they find ’em, they take them down.

    Perhaps someone should print this out for the Sherrifs department there and have them actually READ it:

  2. Lisa Alexander June 10, 2010 at 18:45 #

    I am this young man’s mother. I am fighting for his life. Please get the message out via every Internet media you can. A light needs to be shone on this. My son is still incarcerated and my family cannot afford 20k for a defense attorney. Thank You!

  3. David N. Brown June 10, 2010 at 19:12 #

    I’m going to take a bit of a dissenting view: By all indications, the man did attack a member of law enforcement, and caused injuries beyond what could be expected in straightforward “self defense”. That said, I hope the Alexanders can find the best possible counsel. At the very least, their son deserves a lighter sentence than these clearly “trumped up” charges would indicate.

  4. JD June 10, 2010 at 19:42 #

    It appears to be a clear case of over-reaction by authorities. A hyped up young deputy and a black male who may not understand the deputies aggressive posture, I wouldnt doubt that the young man was sprayed BEFORE he reacted. Its common anymore for police to provoke a situation and then charge the person they provoked with assault for simply resisting an unlawful arrest.

  5. David N. Brown June 11, 2010 at 06:22 #

    I think police tactics are designed around establishing dominance for the purpose of preventing persistent resistance. Against street-smart criminals, this could be effective, and make both officers and suspects safer. I think the problem in a situation like this is that someone with a mental illness or handicap may not be able to make the “risk-benefit” judgment that such tactics are designed to produce.

    I’m struck by the fact that at least one charge specifies “knowingly” acting against an officer, which clearly goes from points of fact to the defendant’s mental state. I’m inclined to think that the intent is to encourage a plea bargain on a set of lesser charges.

  6. Meg June 11, 2010 at 22:56 #

    This is sad

  7. Lisa Alexander June 12, 2010 at 23:39 #

    JD, thanks for your objective view on the situation that was reported from the police’s side. There is another side that has not been heard, but needs to be. My hope is that, in time (sooner than later) that other side will be heard.

    Thanks to all for your support.



  8. Liz Ditz June 15, 2010 at 21:08 #

    Ken Reibel’s post is up at HuffPo

  9. Zach June 25, 2010 at 11:22 #

    It appears this person who’s mother claims is a perfect little angles has quite a criminal history.

  10. David N. Brown June 25, 2010 at 19:30 #

    It seems possible (at the least) that these warrants are for a different person. It’s also possible that the previous charges weren’t sound. In any event, it appears that the police declined to charge him for any other incident.

    On the lighter side, an actual conversation between me and Northern Arizona University parking services:
    “Are you saying it wasn’t your car?”
    “No, I’m saying I don’t HAVE a car. OR a driver’s license.”

  11. Joseph June 25, 2010 at 19:44 #

    The warrants for theft and domestic violence were filed days after the incidents described in the post, which seems convenient and peculiar. I’d like to hear the mom’s explanation. (She’s been commenting.)

  12. David N. Brown June 25, 2010 at 19:45 #

    After looking at it a little more, I’m going to say the police probably know the suspect named on the warrants is a different Reginald. They couldn’t have missed the name match, and nobody is saying they have been going easy on this Reginald.

    Also, it’s clear enough from the family’s account that “Neli” has had his share of problems. That doesn’t change his civil rights.

  13. Jorge Hernandez July 20, 2010 at 14:57 #

    In fact if the Latson’s condition is trully positive (ASD), there is no reason to be treated as a criminal no way…


  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - Reading while black and autistic leads to arrest « Left Brain/Right Brain -- - June 10, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev, jennbrockman. jennbrockman said: RT @kevleitch: Reading while black and autistic leads to arrest: Reginald Latson, an 18-year-old Virginia man with A… […]

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