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Illinois Police Use Taser on 14-Year-Old with Autism in Alleged Case of Mistaken Identity

In a shocking incident that unfolded on the morning of November 20, 2023, a 14-year-old boy with autism, Avarius Thompson, was tased by police in Dolton, Illinois, leading to a fractured hip and injuries. 

The Thompson family, still grappling with the aftermath, asserts that the encounter was a result of mistaken identity.

Thompson Family Demands Accountability

According to the Dolton Police Department’s incident report, officers were assisting the nearby village of Riverdale in the search for four Black males who had fled from a crashed, stolen vehicle, two of whom were allegedly armed. Avarius was pursued by officers who believed he matched the description of a suspect in a backyard.

The body-camera footage captured the tense moments as a Dolton police officer shouted, “Hands up! Hands up!” and deployed his Taser when Avarius attempted to evade by jumping over a fence. 

The footage reveals the distressing nature of the encounter, with the officer issuing commands and deploying the Taser again when the teen tried to get up.

Avarius’ father, Eric Thompson, expressed his fear, stating, “It was very scary. I could see he was confused. He didn’t know what was going on.” The family’s attorney, Calvin Townsend II, believes it was a case of mistaken identity, emphasizing that the teen’s clothing was similar to the suspect’s description.

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Illinois Teen’s Taser Ordeal: Hospitalization and Release to Riverdale Police

In a shocking incident that unfolded on the morning of November 20, 2023, a 14-year-old boy with autism, Avarius Thompson, was tased by police in Dolton, Illinois, leading to a fractured hip and injuries.

In the footage, another officer can be heard expressing doubt about Avarius being the suspect. Despite a Riverdale officer positively identifying Avarius, Townsend contends that the teen’s autistic condition added to the confusion, describing it as very confusing for a young individual rushed by officers with what could be perceived as weapons.

Avarius’ family, shocked by the incident, confronted officers at the scene, with his sister expressing disbelief, “He’s a little boy!” The teen’s mother, Gwendolyn Toran, informed officers about his autism, emphasizing the need for understanding and appropriate handling.

Following the incident, Avarius was transported to a hospital, where his parents revealed he suffered a fractured hip, bruising, and taser marks. 

The family alleges that their son was released to the custody of Riverdale police, Illinois after being seen by a doctor and was later released from custody.

In response to the incident, the village of Dolton issued a statement committing to a thorough and transparent investigation with external reviews. 

Mayor Tiffany A. Henyard emphasized adherence to the highest standards and ordered a full review of the facts surrounding the incident.

Attorney Townsend confirmed that as of now, Avarius has not been charged with any crime. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office reported no contact from the police regarding charges related to the incident.

Avarius’ parents, still in shock, expressed concern about the frequency of such incidents involving children, emphasizing their commitment to seeking justice and preventing similar occurrences in the future. 

Townsend confirmed his intention to pursue legal action on behalf of the family, highlighting the need for accountability and awareness surrounding the challenges faced by individuals with autism in encounters with law enforcement.

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