Buckeye, AZ — Following a national outcry surrounding the violent takedown of an autistic boy by Officer David Grossman, the Buckeye Police Department began conducting damage control. As the world lashed out at the department for mistreating Connor, an innocent autistic boy in such a violent and callous manner, the parents simply asked for an apology—one that would never come.
As ABC 15 reports, after the incident, the Leibel family through an attorney sent Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall a letter with three requests: (1) Grossman apologize face to face (2) Grossman perform community service in the autism community (3) Buckeye institutes autism training for officers.
The letter then said, “If these terms are agreed to first, any financial component of this case will be quickly resolved.”
All the department had to do was agree to those terms, an apology, teach cops not to beat up autistic kids, and have the abusive cop who did beat up an autistic kid volunteer at some local events in the autism community. They refused to do any of it.
Instead, they instituted some Orwellian Scarlett letter program in which they tagged people with disabilities so cops wouldn’t beat them up. Instead of teaching cops not to hurt disabled people, they made disabled people register with the city and wear a wristband so cops could identify them. Seriously.
Now, six months after Grossman attacked the innocent autistic boy, the family has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit—because the department refused to take any action.
“So it’s with a heavy heart, and having received no meaningful response or apology from Buckeye to date, that Connor L. and his family are forced to pursue legal action…,” the claim states.
The entire disturbing interaction and subsequent assault were captured on the officer’s body camera and serve to illustrate the destructive and violent nature of both the war on drugs as well as police ignorance in dealing with those who have disabilities.
The department, who subsequently cleared the violent officer of all wrongdoing, described Grossman as a “drug recognition expert” with the department’s patrol division. As The Free Thought Project has reported, officers can attend a weekend training seminar where they learn how to escalate traffic stops under suspicion of drug use and charge more motorists with “driving under the influence of drugs,” even though many who are charged had no drugs in their system at all.
As TFTP reported at the time of the original incident:
Grossman approached Leibel and asked him what he was doing. The autistic boy responded with “good” and that he was “stimming” — short for self-stimulation — the often repetitive actions, movements, and sounds many if not most autistic individuals make to calm and stimulate themselves.
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“I’m okay. I’m okay,” Connor screamed as the man he was likely always was told by his family was there as a protector, in that moment, became his tormentor.
Anyone who knows anything about working with autistic individuals knows how to spot someone who is likely autistic. There are the tell-tale signs of repetitive behaviors, rocking motions, awkward social interactions, and inappropriate speech responses in some. And one thing experts also know is autistic individuals get extremely agitated, anxious, and sometimes combative when they’re touched.
Grossman grabbed Connor as the young teenager attempted to walk away from the officer, an action which was well within his civil rights since he was not a suspect in any crime. But Grossman quickly told him not to walk away and attempted to place the boy in handcuffs after grabbing him by the arm.
When Connor attempted to pull away, Grossman took him to the ground and held him there until backup arrived, all the while Connor was screaming in agony and trying to mentally make sense of everything happening to him.
“Don’t move…Stop moving…Don’t you move, you understand?” Grossman told the boy as a dangerous situation could have quickly gotten out of hand. If the boy had reached back and grabbed Grossman’s gun, what would have happened then?
“Why are you acting like this Connor,” he asked. “Cause I’m okay,” the boy replied.
The young boy’s aunt, Diane, heard all the child’s screams and approached the scene. She told Grossman she was sorry if her nephew had done anything wrong but stated he had autism. “He’s fighting with me,” the officer said being completely untruthful with the boy’s guardian.
At that moment, the officer should have removed his hands from the boy and allowed him to get to his feet. Instead, he held him down (a no, no with autistic individuals) for what must have been agonizing minutes until his backup arrived.
“He’s doing something with his hands…I don’t know what that is,” the officer stated. “You don’t have anything (drugs) on you do you,” he ignorantly asked again.
Predictably, the Buckeye Police Department investigated the incident with Grossman and concluded “no use of force” occurred in dealing with the teen. But his body and the pictures of the damage to his body, tell a different tale. Bruises, scrapes, and cuts covered the autistic boy’s torso that were inflicted as a result of the fact that a poorly trained “drug recognition expert” could arguably not tell the difference between someone who is on drugs and someone who is autistic.
Following the incident, which took place on June 19, the Buckeye Police Department conducted their own internal investigation and concluded Leibel’s autism led to “suspicious behavior” which gave officer Grossman “reasonable suspicion” to believe Leibel was under the influence of drugs.
Just like that, a young man’s autism was declared to be a justified reason for his detainment and physical assault — in the land of the free.
Now, the taxpayers will undoubtedly be held accountable for not only the violence of one cop but for the stubborn, callous, and obstinate behavior of the entire department who is protecting him.
Watch the infuriating Body Cam footage below: