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New Bern, NC: Autistic child handcuffed after meltdown; mom demands police training

Aug 8, 2023, WCTI 12, New Bern, NC: Child with Autism handcuffed by police, mother calls for change, answers

A New Bern mother is protesting after her Autistic son was placed in handcuffs during an outburst at the New Bern Mall.

She came to Tuesday night's Board of Alderman meeting demanding answers.

For Sasha Strayhorn and her son, Kayden, what happened at the mall was what she called a traumatic experience after an outburst escalated when police were called about a young boy hitting his mother.

Strayhorn said Kayden is Autistic and nonverbal and they have had incidents in the past where police were called but she said officers were able to talk Kayden down without laying a hand on him.

She said whether or not a child has special needs, they should never be put in handcuffs.

"This is unacceptable. This shouldn't happen to my child or anybody else's child," Sasha Strayhorn said.

In a statement at the meeting, New Bern Police Chief Patrick Gallagher said officers intervened when they got to the mall and saw the commotion.)

Chief Gallagher said in his statement that no additional force was used.

"Out of safety for the mother and the child, officers separated the two and handcuffed the child. The child was not injured and was placed in the backseat of a patrol car," Gallagher said.

Sasha Strayhorn said that's not enough and she is looking for change.

"Every law enforcement, I don't care if you're across the world, they all need training, they all need it," she said.

The Board of Alderman had no comment on the matter due to the ongoing investigation, but we will continue to bring you updates as it unfolds.


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