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The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service (ACPS) has decided not to lay charges against the RCMP officers involved in the arrest of a 16-year-old boy with autism in St. Albert in October 2022. The boy, who is non-verbal, was arrested at a playground after police received 911 calls about his erratic behavior. He was taken to a hospital in Edmonton after attempting to harm himself while in custody.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) conducted an investigation into the incident and found that there were “reasonable grounds to believe that an offence may have been committed by the subject officers.” However, the case was referred to the Crown, which did not recommend charges be laid. The ASIRT investigation involved interviews with civilian witnesses, police officers, the youth’s mother, and a review of surveillance video from the area.

During the incident, the RCMP officers mistook the youth for a person they recognized as a drug user in the area. They also noted that the boy was making strange noises, repeating things, and had dilated pupils. Despite three civilian witnesses recognizing that the youth could be neurodivergent, the officers proceeded with the arrest. The boy was handcuffed, causing distress, and was taken to the RCMP detachment where he continued to exhibit erratic behavior.

The youth was reported missing before police were able to identify him and connect him with his family. The boy sustained mild injuries and was taken to the hospital by paramedics who administered a sedative. The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP is also investigating the arrest and detention of the boy with autism. The incident has raised questions about the handling of individuals with neurodivergent conditions by law enforcement officers.

Despite the findings of the ASIRT investigation, the ACPS has decided not to lay charges against the RCMP officers involved in the arrest of the boy with autism. The decision not to lay charges has sparked controversy and debate among the public, with some questioning the actions of the officers and calling for accountability and training for law enforcement in dealing with individuals with neurodivergent conditions. The incident highlights the importance of proper training and awareness for police officers when interacting with individuals with disabilities.

Moving forward, it is crucial for authorities to address the issues raised by this incident and work towards improving the way law enforcement officers handle situations involving individuals with autism and other neurodivergent conditions. This case serves as a reminder of the need for compassion, understanding, and appropriate training for officers to ensure the safety and well-being of all members of the community, including those with disabilities. By learning from this experience and taking proactive measures, law enforcement agencies can strive to prevent similar incidents in the future and promote inclusivity and respect for individuals with diverse needs.

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