Mother posts huge sign on house to 'protect black, autistic son from police'

Judy McKim's sign tells cops they have 'no excuse' for assaulting her son after prior incident

Feliks Garcia
New York
Friday 02 September 2016 01:30 BST
Mum posts sign to protect autistic son

A Nevada woman painted a large message to police in order to protect her autistic son – “Autistic Man Lives Here Cops No Excuse,” it reads.

Judy McKim decided to paint the notification after she says police assaulted her son, Zachary, at a time when significant scrutiny is placed on officers in the US, whom many believe are ill-equipped in de-escalation tactics when interacting with people with psychological disorders.

In bold, black letters Ms Mckim painted the warning on her home, along with a number of signs describing her son as “black autistic man with a full beard”.

“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,” she told a local ABC affiliate. “He’s autistic, he doesn’t know what’s happening. He doesn’t know what police is.”

According to the report, a neighbour called 911 after witnessing the son, identified only as Zachary, 28, in an apparent “rage” outside of his home in Henderson, a suburb 15 miles outside of Las Vegas. When police arrived, they reportedly attempted to restrain him.

“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,” said Ms McKim, who adopted her son when he was two days old.

The police report does not indicate that police ever touched Zachary, but does indicate that they took him to an area hospital, where he was held for two days. No charges were filed.

Henderson Police have reportedly reached out to Ms McKim to investigate the incident.

The incident comes after the Justice Department released a sweeping report on the Baltimore Police Department, which revealed that officers in the city found themselves in unnecessarily violent confrontations with mentally ill civilians – most of whom have committed no crimes.

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The findings marked the first time the Justice Department found evidence that a police department’s policies had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the Associated Press.

“Through the course of our work in the last several years on this bucket of issues, we’ve seen how important it is to get at the mental health issues as early in the system as possible,” said Vanita Gupta, head of the department’s Civil Rights Division.

Recommendations from the DOJ include better training for both dispatchers and officers, efforts to divert people suffering from mental health issues to receive treatment instead of jail, and fostering relationships between law enforcement and mental health specialists.

Ms McKim – who is taking exhaustive measures to communicate her son’s needs to police – hopes her story will help other families in similar situations.

“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,” she said. “It scared me this bad."

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