LAPD officers shot and fatally wounded an autistic man after his uncontrollable behavior led them to believe he was dangerous.
Stephen Eugene Washington, 27, was diagnosed with autism and other learning disabilities. His relatives said that in addition, he was afraid of strangers, and could even be unsocial around family members.
Officers Allan Corrales and George Diego approached Washington after they had heard a loud noise and saw him walking on the side of the street. The officers said that was looking around and touching something around his waist. They say that this is why they decided to investigate. Washington’s relatives believe that he was simply on his way home after visiting friends.
Washington was addressed by the officers, and did not respond. Washington then made a movement that looked like he was reaching for his waistband, and both officers fired a shot at him. One of the bullets missed, while the other struck him in the head. Police searched the body and did not discover a weapon. Washington was pronounced dead just after midnight.
The officers said that the motion that Washington made caused them to fear for their lives. Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger stated at a news conference that “The officers made the decision in a fraction of a second.”
Washington was enrolled at a community college, with hopes to pursuit a career as a mechanic. He liked riding the bus and trains, and enjoyed spending time with his friends.