The mother of an autistic teenager said Tuesday that Metro Transit officers used force and injured her son while trying to arrest him.
“They totally mishandled the situation,” said Maria Caldwell, who said she plans to file a complaint regarding an incident that occurred Monday evening at the Green Line Lexington Parkway station in St. Paul.
Officers need to be trained on how to deal with people with mental illnesses, she said.
Caldwell said her 17-year-old son, Marcus, is autistic, suffers seizures and has a number of mental health disorders including sensory and anger management problems. “He has the mind of a 12-year-old,” she said.
Metro Transit police are reviewing the incident, spokesman Howie Padilla said.
Padilla said the incident began about 7 p.m. Monday when two transit officers asked the teen to get off the tracks and return to the platform, Padilla said.
“In the process of making an arrest, the officers did end up taking the individual to the ground,” he said. The teen suffered a bloody lip and as a precaution was taken to Regions Hospital, he said.
Caldwell said the injuries her son suffered on his head, face and body indicate to her that the officers “did more than gently take him to the ground.”
Caldwell said her son was with two other friends when he was standing on the tracks. He told her he didn’t hear the officers at first because he was wearing headphones. When the officers asked for his ID, he tried to explain he was only 17 and didn’t have one, Caldwell said.
“Just by talking to him they should have known that something in his mind was not right,” she said. Officers told her at the hospital that they thought her son was “on something” or an alcoholic.
“I want them to understand what they did was wrong. … They handle people with Alzheimer’s in a certain way. They need to handle people who are disabled and mentally challenged in the same way,” she said.
Until the review is done, Padilla said he couldn’t comment on why the teen was arrested or the events that followed. While at the hospital, the mother informed the officers of her son’s disabilities, and they determined it was better to send him home rather than arrest him, Padilla said.