Man with autism who was wrongly jailed, sues police

Salt Lake City — Lance James Whitaker, 43 who has autism, wrongly spent four days in jail because police mistook him for a career criminal.

Deseret News report that Mr Whitaker told of how police handcuffed him on his front porch last July and told him they had a warrant for his arrest for theft. He was not interviewed and nobody tried to determine his identity.

A federal lawsuit was filed on Monday June 9 against the city of Layton.

The article reports that at the Davis County Jail, Whitaker told jailers he didn’t understand what was happening but he was ignored, threatened and told to shut up.

Attorney Ryan Stanger wrote in the lawsuit:

“Because of the reprehensible treatment that Mr. Whitaker suffered while jailed, he began hitting himself in the head, banging his head on things and screaming in agony,”

It was only after four days that he was allowed to make a phone call, he phoned his father and was released.

Layton prosecutor Marlesse Jones moved to dismiss charges against Mr Whitaker for false information to a police officer, carrying a dangerous weapon and retail theft.

Deputy city attorney Steve Garside said the warrant for Whitaker resulted from a man named Lancer Lee Whitaker giving police a false name and date of birth.

He went on to add that Lance Whitaker is “an innocent party in all of this.”

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages.

The original article by Dennis Romboy on the Deseret News website can be read here