Golda Barton dialed 911 on Friday night when her 13-year-old son was having a mental crisis. She was hoping they could help her hospitalize him. Instead he was shot after running away, and is hospitalized in serious condition with injuries to his intestines, bladder, shoulder, and ankles.
Linden Cameron has Asperger’s Syndrome, and his mother says he battles severe separation anxiety when she leaves him alone. Friday was her first day back to work after almost a year. She called 911 when he was suffering a mental breakdown.
When police arrived, she told them that he was unarmed and that he needed to be taken to a hospital. Police asked her to stay outside the house while they entered. Within five minutes she heard them ordering her son to the ground and then gunfire.
In a briefing with reporters later that night, a police spokesman suggested that officers believed the boy might have a weapon. Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Keith Horrocks said officers showed up at the house after reports about “a juvenile that was having a mental episode, a psychotic episode, that had made threats to some folks with a weapon.”
Horrocks said that the boy fled the house on foot, and that one officer shot him.
No weapon was found. Police say more information will be released within 10 business days when body cam footage will be released, as required by a Salt Lake City ordinance.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said, “While the full details of this incident are yet to be released as an investigation takes place, I will say that I am thankful this young boy is alive and no one else was injured,” Mendenhall said in her statement. “No matter the circumstances, what happened on Friday night is a tragedy, and I expect this investigation to be handled swiftly and transparently for the sake of everyone involved.”
Neurodiverse UT, which promotes autism acceptance, issued a statement condemning the shooting. “Police were called because help was needed, but they met the situation with force — even after they had been informed by the boy’s mother of the situation. … There are safer, nonviolent methods that first responders can use to help an individual in this situation.”