A deputy has been fired after a video surfaced showing him tormenting a 13-year-old boy with autism. The incident happened at a Florida middle school. On the video, he can be heard threatening to handcuff the boy and, according to Raw Story, threatened to:
“Take him to a mental hospital for life.”
This Man Terrorized Autistic Teen
The 22-year law enforcement veteran, Deputy Ural Darling, was asked to help with Evan Dowdy, a student of Osceola Middle School in Pinellas County, Florida, who they accused of throwing a textbook at a teacher, according to the Daily Mail.
The deputy can be seen walking Dowdy down a hallway when the deputy became angry and abusive. He can be heard threatening the boy, which is when, according to RawStory:
“The video shows Darling telling Dowdy to put his hands behind his back because he was going to cuff him.”
After which, Darling launched into a tirade, threatening to have Dowdy institutionalized for life.
“This is what you’ve been wanting, right?
How about if I throw books at you? Last time I told you to stop that crap. I am not playing with you anymore!”
At a press conference, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that the incident occurred on May 15. Darling was walking Dowdy to the behavioral specialist’s office when he began yelling at the child, Gualtieri said, according to WTSP.
When they reached the specialist’s office, Darling continued taunting the boy, making him stand with his hands outstretched.
Then he placed several books in the child’s hands, the sheriff said.
“At that point, deputy Darling began to challenge the child as he’s standing there with his books in his hand, to throw the books at him. And then when the child does begin to throw the books, then he commands him not to throw the books.”
Although the student is 13, his cognitive level is that of a first-grader and his communication skills are at the level of kindergartner, Gualtieri said.
Only after attempting to deflect blame, saying he wasn’t trained to deal autistic individuals, Darling apologized, saying that he:
“…Never should have acted with way he did.”
In a statement the school said:
“We thank the Sheriff’s Office for their thorough investigation into the allegations against Deputy Darling…we will work with the Sheriff’s Office to identify a new school resource officer for Osceola Middle School.”
Evan Dowdy was clearly under stress and was acting out because it was the only thing he could do. I’ve worked with autistic kids myself, and I have no doubt this young boy was dealing with the stress in the only way he knew how. It’s completely unacceptable that this officer tormenting him like this.
And his mother, Megan Dowdy, said she just couldn’t believe what she heard in the distressing audio. Here’s what she had to say, according to the Tampa Bay Times:
“It’s like time stopped. It’s hard enough having a child with autism, but then for this to happen, it’s insane.”
Young Evan, who has since turned 14, is spending his second year in sixth grade at the Middle School, following the upsetting event. He’s been under tremendous stress and has replayed the incident in his head, his mom said.
At a shopping mall earlier this summer, Evan alerted his mom when he saw a police cruiser nearby. It scared him, she noted. And he’s reportedly suffered night terrors as a result of the incident.
Hopefully, after being traumatized like he was, young Evan is getting proper counseling and will be able to put this behind him, but it would be nice if the people who are charged with the care of these kids would realize that autistic kids need to be treated with calmness, empathy and kindness. Evan, no doubt, wouldn’t be having night terrors if this incident hadn’t occurred.
You can watch the disturbing incident in the video below.
Featured Image By CBS Action News/YouTube Video.