02/02/2012

Autistic teen killed after threatening cops

A teen with Asperger's syndrome appeared and "made slashing strikes" while holding a knife, according to police

By PoliceOne Staff

CALUMET CITY, Ill. — Two police officers fired shots during a call involving a teen with Asperger's syndrome, who later died at the hospital.

Officers had been to the home of Stephon Watts, 15, for eleven domestic disturbances prior to Wednesday's incident, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Five officers arrived and as two descended into the basement, the 5-foot-10, 220-lb. teen appeared and "made slashing strikes" while holding a knife, according to police.

The lead officer suffered a cut to his left forearm and at that time, both officers fired, according to the Chicago Tribune. Police said they were trapped in the stairwell.

"Cornered and having no way to retreat back up the stairs, the officers fired one shot each, striking the (boy) twice," Police Chief Edward Gilmore said. "Unfortunately, the officer thought that his life was in jeopardy."

Watts' father, Steven, said his son carried a butter knife and was shot once in the leg and once in the head. The coroner late Wednesday did not indicate where bullets struck the teen, but confirmed Watts' death.

The officer who suffered the cut had dealt with Watts before. In December December, the teen punched his mother and wielding a knife, threatened officers in the street outside the home. After giving chase, police used a TASER to strike him twice.

Steven Watts said a "tussle" with his son that morning prompted Wednesday's 911 call, and social workers had previously told him the teen should be handled by authorities. All Calumet City police officers are trained to handle autism disorders and had just attended a class last year.

Steven Watts questioned the use of lethal force.

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