A Virginia mother is crying injustice after her 18-year-old autistic son Reginald “Neli” Latson was arrested and held without bail for 11 days for allegedly assaulting a police officer who believed he had a gun, reports the Huffington Post. Neli, who has a mild form of autism known as Asperger Syndrome, liked to take walks in the morning. Last month he walked to a public library he frequented near an elementary school. Someone from the school called police to report a suspicious man “possibly in possession of a gun” hanging around. The library was closed so he sat under a tree and waited for it to open. Someone from the school called police to report a suspicious man “possibly in possession of a gun” hanging around. Officials responded by ordering a lockdown of the school. As Neli walked towards a nearby high school, he was approached by a “school resources officer” who is also a Sheriff deputy and a scuffle occurred. That’s when police say Neli assaulted the officer and resisted arrest. He was later arrested and held in isolation without bail for 11 days. His mother was only allowed one visit, though a school counselor was allowed regular consultations. An official police report later noted that “a gun was not actually seen by the reporting parties.” Alexander calls police actions in the incident “excessive in the least and grossly mishandled.” On a website she has started for her son she writes:
“Someone says ‘I see a suspicious Black male’ and he ‘could’ have a gun, while all my son was doing was sitting in the grass at the library. And you shut down six schools and go out on a manhunt for this dangerous Black man who was sitting in the grass. Anyone can read between the lines and see that this just doesn’t add up.”
Because police found Neli “non-responsive and disturbed” during interrogations, a judge ordered that he be placed in a mental institution for 30 days of treatment. If his case remains unresolved at the end of 30 days, Neli will return to jail.