Content Notes: Abuse of an Autistic Individual
On Monday, a police officer shot Charles Kinsey, a black therapist who was trying to help his client – a young Latino man named Arnaldo Rios – not get shot. Rios had walked away from his group home and someone called 911, claiming that a man was suicidal and armed with a gun. Rios, in fact, autistic not suicidal, and was carrying a toy fire truck.
Kinsey got to the scene around the same time as the cops, lay on his back with his arms in the air to show the police he wasn’t threatening, and was trying to get Arnaldo to do the same when the police shot him. That’s the story we’ve known. I covered it here for CNN and in two blog entries.
Now here’s some new information. UPDATE: Important piece from Miami Herald based on interviews with Rios’ family.
First – The officer was identified and his commander suspended for trying to falsify evidence. No further details yet available. Notice this rhetoric though, as one of my friends on Facebook pointed out:
Second – The Rios family has a lawyer, disability rights expert Matthew Dietz, who shared a picture of Arnaldo (below) and spoke to me over the phone. Dietz told me the following.
- Rios left the home holding a truck and Kinsey, with whom he had a close relationship, followed to help.
- After Rios saw Kinsey get shot, the police handcuffed Rios and put him in the back of a police car for THREE OR FOUR HOURS, handcuffed the entire time. Dietz told me that Rios, as is typical of many autistic individuals, calms himself by stimming – rocking his body and shaking his hands and arms. During those three or four hours, therefore, Rios was both upset at seeing his friend and therapist shot AND prevented from calming himself AND denied any immediate assistance despite everyone knowing they had taken custody of an autistic individual.
- NOTE FROM ME: If you want to know more about stimming and the abuse of being kept from doing it, from an autistic perspective, read Julia Bascom’s essay Quiet Hands.
- Rios was eventually taken to a mental health ward of a local hospital, where he remains, despite them being completely unequipped to address Rios’ needs. Rios cannot return to the group home, as earlier attempts left him showing signs of trauma. There are no other suitable facilities in Miami-Dade County to Dietz’ knowledge.