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The LAPD Claims Leadership in Autism Training After Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Man

Photo by CarbonNYC via Flickr
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Over the weekend, the LAPD shot and killed an unarmed man in Koreatown who was behaving suspiciously and appeared to be removing something from his waistband. The victim was 27-year-old Steven Washington, and according to his family, was autistic. The gang enforcement officers, Allan Corrales and George Diego, believed Washington was reaching for a weapon, and fired once, striking him in the head, according to an AP report.Corrales and Diego's actions have prompted the ACLU to investigate the shooting, and calls into question the LAPD's procedures when it comes to dealing with members of the autistic community. Today the LAPD has released information about their training, claiming leadership and innovation when it comes to such experience on the force. They offer multiple periodic one-hour courses and other training to certain divisions and officers, and have had a partnership with the Autism Society of America since 2007.

But ACLU of Southern California Executive Director Ramona Ripston has said that it is not clear "why lethal force was necessary when officers were not responding to any report of criminal activity and had no reason to suspect Mr. Washington of a crime." Ripston hopes this leads to the LAPD re-examining the depth and breadth of their training when dealing with mentally ill suspects. The LAPD's Force Investigation Division and the district attorney's office are investigating the shooting.