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SLC Police Chief Says Officer Shooting Of An Autistic Teen Shows Need For Community Partnerships

A photo of Mike Brown at a press conference.
Emily Means
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said he wants his department to learn from the incident and partner with experts to better respond to mental health crises.

“Tell my mom I love her” were the last words 13-year-old Linden Cameron uttered after being shot by Salt Lake City police. Cameron, who is autistic, survived the shooting, though his family said he suffered injuries to his shoulder, both ankles, intestines and bladder.

“The long term effects of his injuries are still unknown, but it is likely that his recovery will be long and require multiple kinds of treatment,” according to a GoFundMe page set up for him.

The Salt Lake City Police Department released the footage Monday, from the Sept. 4 shooting. Cameron’s mother called the police to ask for a crisis intervention officer because her son was having a mental health crisis. About eight minutes into the video, she’s heard telling officers that law enforcement is a “trigger” for him.

“I’m so worried,” she tells officers in the video. “He sees the badge and automatically thinks you’re gonna kill him.”

According to the department, three officers were dispatched to the call and went to the residence. After speaking with the mother, two went to the front while another stayed outside.

After knocking on the front door, one officer can be heard yelling at Cameron, who was in the backyard. He then jumped a fence, which police eventually broke through and began to chase him.

Officers then ordered him to stop and get on the ground before firing about a dozen shots at him. Cameron can then be heard saying he doesn’t feel well.

At a brief press conference before the footage was released, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said the department wants to partner with mental health service providers to prevent future incidents like this.

“As a community, we need to find a way forward,” Brown said. “Too often, our officers are called to deal with these difficult problems which frequently are not criminal in nature.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said as a mother, she’s “heartbroken and frustrated.” She said going forward, the city will make all bodycam footage of police shootings — up to the point where officers administer medical attention — public within 10 business days.

“This is an effort for us to remove unnecessary obstacles and hurdles to the public as they seek information that they would otherwise be entitled to, anyway,” Mendenhall said.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office will now investigate the incident.

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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