Las Vegas, NV — In America, if you are mentally challenged, you have a 1,600 percent higher chance of being killed by police. Because of this shocking truth, a Las Vegas mother has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure cops don’t kill her autistic son. She has spray painted her garage door with huge lettering that states, ‘Autistic man lives here cops no excuse.’
Judy McKim made the choice to label her home in such a manner after she says police nearly killed her son a few weeks prior during an interaction.
Although Judy’s son, Zachary is 28-years-old, he has the mentality of a toddler. If fact, her son still uses a pacifier and wears diapers.
“I wanted to make sure that they knew everything. That he is still in diapers, doesn’t understand words, doesn’t understand what a gun is,” said mother Judy McKim.
When a friend called 9-1-1 to report Zachary essentially throwing a temper tantrum, police showed up and tried to restrain him.
“He’s autistic, he doesn’t know what is happening. He doesn’t know what police is,” McKim said. “He is in a diaper, along with the pacifier, and the cops are kneeling on my son and one of them reaches for his gun because Zach was fighting for his life.”
According to KTNV, they reached out to the police department who claim the officers never touched Zachary. After the incident, Zachary was taken to the hospital for two days, but he faces no charges.
In spite of the uncomfortable press coverage, McKim hopes her story will help other autistic families.
“I don’t like doing this. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed that everyone knows, I’m embarrassed that I’m on TV. I’m embarrassed that you guys are seeing my life, but that’s reality,” McKim said.
According to KTNV, McKim adopted Zachary when he was only two days old and has been his caretaker ever since.
“It scared me this bad,” McKim said, referring to her house-turned-billboard.
Sadly, McKim has every reason in the world to be fearful of police killing her son.
As the Free Thought Project has pointed out in the past, the overwhelming majority of time spent by police during training is devoted to shooting their weapons. Almost no time is set aside for training in de-escalation tactics, and most departments receive zero training in dealing with the mentally ill.
In fact, a study by the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, an organization dedicated to eliminating the barriers faced by those with severe mental illnesses, released a jaw-dropping report titled, Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters. In the report, researchers discovered that people with an untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during an interaction with police than anyone else.
According to the study, by all accounts – official and unofficial – a minimum of 1 in 4 fatal police encounters ends the life of an individual with severe mental illness.
Where official government data regarding police shootings and mental illness have been analyzed – in one U.S. city and several other Western countries – the findings indicate that mental health disorders are a factor in as many as 1 in 2 fatal law enforcement encounters.
Being mentally ill in a police state, as our records show time and again, is deadly.
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