Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Do Autistic Lives Matter?

An autistic man was killed by the police last week, this time in Kansas. It sounds like his crime was not doing what he was told. This follows on reports of a deaf mute man being shot for similar reasons. Here is all we know at the moment:
"On Thursday afternoon, Joseph Weber was pulled over by a Hays Police officer. Weber became flustered and took off in his car. We now know through emails from some members of Weber’s family that he was autistic and had very low verbal skills.
According to a news release from the Ellis County Attorney’s Office, Weber drove off from the initial car stop and was pursued by an officer. When he was stopped a second time, police said he got out of his car and wouldn’t follow directions of the officers. That’s when an officer shot and killed him. It’s still unclear why Weber was pulled over in the first place. . . ."
Again, all we know from the report is that he was shot because he did not comply with police orders. There is no indication he was armed, that he was aggressive, or that he threatened police in any way - if he had, we have to assume the authorities would have stated so up front. If this proves false, I'll be happy to update this post, but I'm not holding my breath.
At this point, I'm just completely numb to these killings, which is . . . awful. I don't have any solution, I don't have any productive way to respond. Can we please, please, train police officers to respond to noncompliance with non-lethal force?
It appears that autistic lives continue to be cheap, as disabled lives have always been. I wish autistic lives mattered.