An autistic teenager from Virginia is in prison for allegedly assaulting a sheriff deputy in Stafford County, Va. on May 24. But his mother Lisa Alexander said her son has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, and she hopes he can be sent home to await his preliminary hearing on July 30. “The jail is not a place for my son,” Alexander told BlackAmericaWeb.com.
Autism – a disability that disrupts a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others – is diagnosed in one in 91 infants, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Reginald “Neli” Latson, 18, was reportedly waiting for the local library to open when he decided to walk to a friend’s house. Around the same time, police received a call about a suspicious person in the area possibly carrying a gun. Several schools in the neighborhood were locked down as a result.
According to a report by the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Thomas Calverley approached Latson, who allegedly fit the caller’s description. He did not find a gun on Latson. However, Latson was arrested for allegedly attacking Calverley when asked to show his identification. He is charged with one count of maliciously wounding a law enforcement officer; assault and battery of a law enforcement officer and knowingly disarming a police officer in performance of his official duties.
Alexander, who has since launched the Web site, A Voice for Neli, told an Internet-based radio show that her son said Calverley threatened him and insulted him with racial slurs. “I will blow your f**king head off, n*gger,” Alexander said.
The deputy allegedly continued to taunt Latson by asking him if his mother had found her “baby daddy,” and said Latson was probably glad President Obama is in office because he can eat free fried chicken. “Barack Obama is going to turn the White House into a strip club and call it the n*gger house,” Calverley allegedly said. “…Boy, I remember the good old days when we were cracking whips on your backs.”
The deputy then asked Latson to identify himself, Alexander told the radio show, to which her son said, “I don’t have to tell you my name. You’re a racist, I know my rights, and you’re harassing me.”
When the teen turned to walk away, the deputy “grabbed him from behind and choked him,” Alexander said.
Latson was then taserd and pepper sprayed, during which time, the police report said, he got a hold of the pepper spray and used it against the deputy. The report said Latson was arrested in the woods 45 minutes after fleeing the scene while Calverley was hospitalized for a head laceration and a broken ankle.
Latson was originally being held for evaluation at Western State Hospital and was to remain there for 30 days. On July 6, a judge ordered that should be released from the hospital and transported to Rappahannock Regional Jail without bond.
Lawyers told Alexander she would have to pay between $15,000-$30,000 for them to take her case, but the court appointed John Mayoras as a private attorney.
Alexander said her son was doing well before the arrest. He was set to graduate from high school next year and worked at a car wash. “I just can’t believe how this system has locked my son away,” Alexander said. “It’s as if no one really cares about the impact this is having on him or how he is being treated.”