A woman living in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson has resorted to plastering her house with signs alerting the police to the fact that her son is autistic after he was previously assaulted by the police when a neighbor called them. As well as placing signs taped to the walls, Judy McKim also painted in large bold letters on her garage door “Autistic Man Lives Here; Cops No Excuse.”
Zachary McKim is 28 years old and was adopted by Judy at the age of two. However, he is severally autistic and as a result extremely limited in his ability to communicate, as well as lacking in the ability to follow orders from or even understand who the police are. During that previous incident in which Zachary was assaulted, Judy stated that one of the Henderson police officers began reaching for his gun.
Via “13 Action News,” the local ABC affiliate:
“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,” said mother Judy McKim.
McKim posted the signs after she said her severely autistic son, Zachary, was assaulted by police.
“He’s autistic, he doesn’t know what is happening. He doesn’t know what police is,” McKim said.
According to McKim, a friend called police after witnessing her 28-year-old Zachary in a “rage.” When police arrived to the home, McKim said they tried 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 McKim.
The Henderson Police Department is now reportedly investigating the incident, since the police report makes no mention of them even touching Zachary. That differs markedly from Judy McKim’s description of what happened that day.
Via Fox 5 News:
Zach is non-verbal with an IQ of 17,” McKim said. “A woman who has never seen an autistic rage called in domestic violence on my son and police officers came in very gung-ho,” McKim said.
“There were three police officers on my son’s bed with their knees on his chest,” McKim said.
McKim added that Zach wears a diaper and has a pacifier in his mouth most of the time.
“That scared me,” McKim said.
FOX5 got a hold of the police report. It says Zach was having “fits of rage” that lasted 20 minutes but that responding officers “never witnessed Zach hurt or hit anyone.” The report never mentioned police physically interacting with Zach.
In addition to the previous assault by Henderson police upon her son, McKim says her actions were motivated by other recent incidents in which autistic people and other people with mental disabilities have been assaulted or even killed by police. One such example was the shooting of Joey Weber an autistic man shot in Hays Kansas. In addition, a local example is the shooting of Abel Correa, who two Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers shot after claiming that he lunged at them with a screwdriver and hammer.
McKim says that she is embarrassed by having to make such personal information public, but that she “can’t imagine losing her son” and hopes that her actions will help other families with autistic children gain some measure of safety when dealing with law enforcement.
Although this might seem like an extreme measure to take, the increasingly aggressive manner in which police respond to calls along with their tendency to be poorly trained for and unable or unwilling to properly deal with mentally disabled people or those suffering from a mental illness, undoubtedly makes it a wise one.