SALT LAKE CITY – A 13-year-old Utah boy with autism was shot by police after his mother asked for help getting him hospital mental-health treatment and officers agreed to talk with him, police footage released Monday showed.
The videos show Salt Lake City officers chasing him down an alley after they arrive at his home, then yelling at him to get on the ground. The boy collapses after a series of shots ring out, moaning, “I don’t feel good. I don’t feel good.” He survived but suffered broken bones and pierced organs, the family's attorney has said.
His mother, Golda Barton, had warned police that her son said earlier that day, Sept. 4, that he had a gun and had threatened to shoot her male coworker and break windows in the house, the video showed. But she told officers she thought it was a BB gun or pellet gun. There were no indications he was armed.
She wanted him to be hospitalized for help with his mental health issues.
Officers said they would have to proceed as though the boy did have access to a real gun, the videos show. Barton told officers the boy was “triggered” by seeing police.
“He sees the badge and he automatically thinks you are going to kill him or he has to defend himself in some way,” she said. “He freaks out.”
The video was made public under a Salt Lake City ordinance requiring the release of video from police shootings within 10 business days.
The shooting has raised new questions about how police deal with people with mental health issues amid nationwide calls for police reform. It came hours before new deescalation tactics were due to take effect for Salt Lake City police, which is also cooperating with an independent investigation of the shooting.