As every parent with a child with autism understands, things can be hard some times. When their child gets overwhelmed or overstimulated by the world around them, they can withdraw into themselves and in some instances they can grow violent.
Luanne Haygood received a call from her son’s school and immediately dropped everything to hurry to his side. But when she got to the boy’s Florida school, she saw her 10-year-old autistic son handcuffed and then arrested.
But she captured the entire April 12 incident on video. And is now speaking out against the police…
Mom had arrived after the police. Because of that, she did not know all the answer. She begged for more information. But the silent police officer, refused to comply. Instead, she handcuffed the boy and took him to the police cruiser because he was arrested.
“Well if he’s going to be arrested, does he still have the same rights as an adult?” Haywood asks the police officer who ignores her.
As the officer reaches toward the boy, he pulls back and tells the officer that “he doesn’t want to be touched.” But it looks like he doesn’t have a say anymore.
Meanwhile, Haygood is trying to speak sense into the police officer. She keeps reiterating her point, saying…
“He has autism. He doesn’t know what’s going on,” she’s heard telling the officers on the clip. “He’s scared to death. He’s 10-years-old.”
The boy, John Haygood, was handcuffed and removed from the school’s premises. He was taken to juvenile detention where he spent the night. During his stay in the lockdown facility, he only had one meal in 12 hours.
On Thursday, he appeared before the judge wearing an orange jumpsuit. The judge released him and sentenced him to house arrest.
The charge that John Haygood was hit with was a felony battery on a school board authority. But the incident did not happen the day before his arrest.
Luanne’s son kicked a paraprofessional at the school last October. The incident hurt the worker and left them injured.
“He didn’t feel good with a paraprofessional,” Haygood told WFOR. “I told him you got to go back to school. He said, ‘I don’t want to go back to school. I don’t like him. I don’t like him. He hurts me.’ ”
In October, John Haygood was expelled. He was forced to complete work from home. And when he went back to class for mandatory testing on April 12, the school resource officer recognized the boy and confirmed that there was an outstanding warrant out for his arrest.
“I asked, ‘Are you going to arrest him right now?’ ” Haygood recalled to WPEC. “She said, ‘Yes ma’am, we have to.’ “
The mother does not understand why it happened this way.
“To go and have him arrested on school grounds in front of other students, in front of personnel, during school hours,” she told WFOR. “They could’ve come to my house at any time to tell me what was going on.”
Meanwhile, the Okeechobee County sheriff’s deputies said they couldn’t serve the arrest warrant until April 12. Mom didn’t want to hear it.
“I was extremely angry,” Haygood added to WFOR, noting she “felt like this was a power play. I felt like this was … ‘This is what you get. You can’t do anything about it. We’re going to arrest your son if he can’t abide by the rules.’”