A 16-year-old autistic boy is in a hospital recovering from a seizure he had while handcuffed by police, according to his family.
She heard her son drop to the floor, she said, but couldn’t reach him because the door was locked.
Ponce asked restaurant employees to unlock the door, she told ABC 30. They found him lying on the tile. Her daughter called 911, and police were the first on the scene.
The Fresno Police Department said officers placed handcuffs on the teen to “prevent him from harming himself or others” until an ambulance arrived. In a news release Monday, Fresno Chief of Police Andrew Hall said the family member who called 911 said he was “combative and harming himself” and said audio of the call confirms he was threatening to kill his family.
In an interview that aired Saturday, Ponce said her son panicked and started vomiting. The responding officers seemingly didn’t acknowledge her when she insisted that her son was autistic with epilepsy, according to a video of the incident obtained by ABC 30 and reviewed by The Washington Post.
Ponce didn’t respond to The Post’s requests for comment.
“They saw that my son was throwing up and instead of helping him, so that he wouldn’t choke on his vomit, they had him on the ground in handcuffs,” she told an ABC reporter.
Police tried to force the teary-eyed teen into their vehicle, but he slipped to the ground amid screams in the background. Ponce ran to her car to find papers that could prove her son’s epileptic history to the officers. The papers allowed medical responders to take over the boy’s care before transporting him to Valley Children’s Hospital.
Ponce’s son is recovering from his epileptic bouts in addition to a fracture on one of his hands and bruises from his encounter with police, ABC News reported. He’s expected to make a full recovery, but his release date is unknown.
Police delivered a certificate of release form to the hospital Friday, which stated that he wouldn’t be arrested after he leaves.
The trauma of the episode has made it difficult for Ponce’s son to receive medical treatment, Ponce told ABC News.
Hall said the department is compiling body camera footage and plans to release it on social media on Tuesday. He added that the incident is being reviewed by the department’s internal affairs unit.
Ponce told ABC that while she is upset about the incident, she hopes it is a teachable moment for police in responding to medical emergencies.
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