Elected officials in North Carolina are demanding answers from the Raleigh Police Department after a SWAT raid last year allegedly “terrorized” a 6-year-old boy with autism.
The official inquiry comes after the boy’s mother enraptured the Raleigh City Council with a passionate and fiery speech about police overreach and accountability on Tuesday evening.
LaDonna Clark began her address as an image of her son flashed across council monitors. Watch at the 1:08:15 mark in the video above.
“This is my 6-year-old son, Ayden,” she noted. “He is now famous because, at the tender age of 6, he has joined the group of 49 percent of black males that will have an encounter with police. And thank God he is able to live and talk about it.”
The mother’s statement continued.
“My senior citizen parents, as well as my 6-year-old son with autism and cerebral palsy, experienced the most terrorizing experience of their lives,” Clark said. “On a 35 degree and rainy night, my son with autism was forced out of the home with military-style rifles aimed at him and made to sit on the cold, wet ground for over an hour by RPD Swat.”
Clark then noted that she filed a complaint with the department—along with a request for video footage from the controversial incident—but asking nicely apparently got her nowhere with Raleigh police officials.
“However, the joke was on me,” she said, “because not only was I not allowed to see the footage of my son being terrorized, I was told by Sgt. Neville that I could not get an I.A. number and I would need to identify the actual offenses of the officers involved, as well as do a verbal interview before I would be able to get an I.A. number. Most importantly, I was assured by Sgt. Neville–even though my complaint had not been officially acknowledged–that the officers involved did nothing wrong.”
Clark also called out the City Council for their alleged complicity in the SWAT team’s show of force.
“The question remains, who is policing the police?” she asked city council members. “By your lack of action you have given RPD a free pass to demonize–and expose to deplorable treatment–the same black citizens you want to take photos with, shake hands with and encourage to support you. What used to be mobs of angry white people has now been replaced by officers allowed to carry guns under the misguided premise that they’re protecting the community. In Ayden’s case, there was no threat present that constituted my son and his elderly grandparents to have assault rifles aimed at them and ready to fire.”
After her presentation, Councilmember Corey Branch requested a report and review of Clark’s allegation from the city manager.
In comments to local NBC affiliate WRAL, Clark lauded the council’s response.
“We are grateful for the support of the community after we shared our story of gross abuse of power and disproportionate use of force by the Raleigh Police Department on my two elderly parents and my 6-year-old son with special needs,” she said. “So far, we have been disappointed by the total lack of accountability offered by the Raleigh Police Department.”
In a statement provided to Raleigh’s local ABC affiliate, the department continued to defend their officers’ actions by noting that they had a search warrant for one of Clark’s relatives. Brian Clark wasn’t there when the SWAT team arrived and was only indicted several months after the incident.
[Image via City of Raleigh screengrab]