Appeals made to Virginia Governor to intervene in case of man with autism

RICHMOND, VA – We recently reported on the case of Reginald “Neli” Latson, 23 who had allegedly assaulted a correctional officer. Governor of Virginia asked to intervene in case involving inmate with autism.

Advocates for both mental health and civil liberties have asked the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe to intervene in the case. Mr Latson is on the autistic spectrum.

He has been arrested twice in the past, both for assaulting police officers. His supporters claim that this is due to his Autism Spectrum Condition and the ‘fight or flight‘ reaction.

Latson’s troubles with the police began in 2010. He was approached by a police officer,responding to a report of a suspicious person situated outside Stafford County library. Mr Latson, is a young black man and at the time was wearing a hoodie, and he refused to identify himself. The officer grabbed and led him into custody which resulted in Mr Latson hitting him.

Julie M. Carpenter, Mr Latson’s attorney, wrote in her first letter to McAuliffe:

“This is the sort of situation that an autistic young man simply cannot comprehend — he had done nothing wrong and yet the officer was restraining him — and the actions of the officer seemed threatening to Neli because he does not understand social roles the way others do,”