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Autistic Teen Presumed Drunk, Held For 10 Hours

Autistic Teen Presumed Drunk, Held For 10 Hours

For what must have been ten terrifying hours in June, 17-year-old Melissa Jones was held in a police cell, finger-printed and made to undergo DNA testing in Liverpool. She was sober but was charged with being drunk and disorderly, even though a doctor at the police station said she had not been drinking.

Jones is autistic and also has ADHD and communication disabilities and was studying culinary arts in college. When her mother, Christine Evans, told police about her being autistic and her other disabilities, they “didn’t want to hear about it.”

On June 16, Jones and a friend had gone out to a shop for Coca-Cola, says the Daily Mail. Another woman, who was inebriated, became aggressive towards the shop’s assistant, and Jones and her friend intervened. They were both “stamped on” and beaten by the woman, who fled. After all this, Jones was “crying and hysterical.” The police showed up, they assumed Jones had been drinking and arrested her.

While in custody, Jones was told that she could have the charges removed if she paid a fine of £60. She refused and was summoned to appear before court in November, where she was formally charged with being drunk and disorderly. She was actually going to have to stand trial next month, but last week the Crown Prosecution Service said it was dropping the case because “the available evidence was insufficient to prove that Miss Jones was drunk and disorderly.”

Since the incident, Jones has tried to commit suicide, says the Daily Mail. Noting that her daughter has been through “hell” and has been in weekly counseling, Evans added that the teenager “hardly ever goes out any more.” The 25-year-old woman who allegedly attacked Jones and her friend has been arrested but has not been charged by Merseyside police due to “lack of evidence.”

While reading about Jones’s case, I can’t help but wonder how things might have turned out differently had the police acknowledged that Jones is autistic. The young woman must have been terrified, not to mention in shock, at being assaulted by the other woman; it was no wonder that she was “crying and hysterical.”

Due to her being autistic, Jones was most likely unable to communicate with the police about what had really happened, as well as whatever distress and confusion she was feeling. Her case is hardly the first in which police have displayed insensitivity towards autistic persons and even treated them brutally. In March of 2012, an autistic teenager was awarded £28,250 in damages from the London Metropolitan police after they pulled him from a swimming pool and handcuffed him. In the U.S., police have handcuffed autistic children (one as young as 8 years old); a year ago, Illinois police shot a teenager with Asperger’s dead in his own home.

It is simply ridiculous, and wrong, that Jones was arrested and charged with being drunk and disorderly conduct. While the charges against her have been rightfully dropped, she is more than owed an apology from the police for being arrested and detained for charges that were simply untrue.

Please sign the petition to clear Melissa Jones of the charges of which the police have wrongly accused her.

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220 comments

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8:38AM PDT on Mar 10, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

7:09AM PST on Feb 26, 2013

It will continue until cops are criminally prosecuted and get prison time.

7:03AM PST on Feb 16, 2013

Police need educated on this type of situations instead of using brute force first. Let this be one of the cops kids they would be fighting mad and it would be taken to the highest court. Educate these cops.. To many teens are killing themselves over bullying

1:56PM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Signed for whatever good it will do.
Really this is absurd. My guess is the girl was either too upset to say anything or they ignored anything she tried to say, just like they ignored her mother and the doctor.
I would like to know what happened to her friend. Too injured to speak? Or also ignored?
And money is no excuse for lack of training either. There are organizations promoting awareness of these subjects. They could probably get volunteers to help educate or if necessary hold a fund raiser.
I say, go sue the department: they owe her money for counseling and whatever she's lost out on due to being so traumatized. And that's another reason money is no excuse. No matter what country or department, any free nation that has the ability to sue, is surely going to waste money defending themselves against this ignorant and cruel behavior. It's better spent educating them on these issues!

9:57AM PST on Feb 10, 2013

In the UK, I've been arrested several times during epileptic seizures. I was thought to be drunk and disorderly. I can't drink alcohol. To be fair, after I'd instructed the police officers who arrested me on what temporal lobe seizures can be like, we ended up friendly and they drove me home, for safety. But police and other authorities do need more instruction on this sort of thing. Someone else with TLE was tasered no great time ago, and in Liverpool an autistic girl was arrested, supposedly drunk. Worst of all is the case of the man who was shot dead by police who imagined the table leg he was carrying was a concealed shotgun.

5:50AM PST on Feb 10, 2013

To Jessica N.: If you think someone with autism can't get through college and have friends, you are just as ignorant as the police in this case. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning there is a wide spectrum of ability/disability. Stupid has nothing to do with it. Autistic people have have communication disorders, they're level of intelligence and ability is just as varied as the general population. . They do not always need to be supervised at all times (as suggested by Lynn D.) They can have jobs, be married, have families, and be contributing members of society.
People with Autism are not the problem in cases like this. The problem is ignorance, lack of education, and prejudice.

4:11AM PST on Feb 10, 2013

Police should be educated better for these situations but there are so much terrorists and other kind of disturbed people that police should use more time to look at the case. One reason for it must be alsi that the parents of "normal kids" which behave badly don't care about anything. This comes from peoples homes and the police force are all the time smaller. One reason for the chaos nowadays is that the more psychiatric places will be ended and all these are on the streets.

5:03PM PST on Feb 5, 2013

Lyn P. Not everyone with Autistic Spectrum Disorder needs someone to watch them. And she was with a friend. She's a college student.

The cops blew it and tried to cover up. Their doctor said she wasn't drunk. Why wasn't she released immediately?

12:22PM PST on Feb 5, 2013

She should have had id on her saying she was autistic and I guess if she is autistic where was the person watching her? I blame the parents more than the police!

9:59PM PST on Feb 3, 2013

Disgusting!

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