This past Friday evening, Salt Lake city mom, Golda Barton called 911 for help. Her son, 13-year-old Linden Cameron, who reportedly has Asperger’s syndrome was experiencing a significant mental health crisis and was in need of help.
Golda was hoping that 911 would help her son get the services he clearly and urgently needed. Instead, the police who arrived in response to her call, shot and nearly killed her son.
He was shot several times by responding officers, injuring his shoulder, both ankles, intestines, and bladder. After they shot him, they cuffed him and would not tell his mother if he was alive or dead.
Later, in an interview with reporters, a spokesman for the police department said that officers believed the boy had a weapon.
Is that just a thing police say now whenever they screw up? Is that the Get Out of Jail FREE Card? I’m seriously asking.
During an emotional and tearful interview on KUTV over the weekend, Golda said,
“He’s a small child. Why didn’t you just tackle him? He’s a baby. He has mental issues.”
The reaction to this tragic and preventable event was swift and fierce.
Mayor Erin Mendenhall said in an official statement published by the Salt Lake Tribune that
“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.”
Others were less polite with their take on the situation. Neurodiverse Utah, a grassroots organization that promotes autism acceptance and self-advocacy said in a statement on Facebook that
“Police were called because help was needed but instead more harm was done when officers from the SLPD expected a 13-year-old experiencing a mental health episode to act calmer and collected than adult trained officers.”
As the movement to Defund the Police grows, stories like this are highlighted as proof that the police who are trained to enforce laws are not adequate or appropriate to respond to all 911 calls.
Social services that are trained in specialized responses to mental health crises, addiction issues, and domestic abuse situations could have been a much more peaceful outcome for Cameron.
The family has set up a Go Fund Me page with a goal of reaching $100,000 to cover the steep medical bills associated with his injuries.
As a mom, I just have to say this is absolute bullshit.
Why would the police, who are heavily armed, trained, with plenty of resources, and who are physically bigger than this kid not use a taser, tackle, or even rubber bullets?
If they really felt they had to get violent with a kid why was their go-to a freaking gun?
And now we have to wait for an independent investigation to find out what really happened. Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time.