An autistic woman was shot by police this past Thursday.
Approximately one year ago the world fell in love with an autistic woman named Danielle Jacobs. Her name might not be very well known, but the video that exposed her autistic condition to the world is.
In the video posted by Jacobs, the woman is seen having a meltdown connected to her autistic condition (Asperger’s syndrome). She is standing by a wall crying and hitting herself. Things only seem to be getting worse, but the large Rottweiler in frame is having none of it.
The Rottweiler jumps up and tries to grab the attention of the woman in order to distract her from her self-harm. When the woman instead starts hitting herself in the head, the dog jumps up again and wraps his paws around her arm to pull it down. Eventually, the woman sits on the floor and begins to calm down as the dog cuddles with her.
The viral video is heart-breaking, hard to watch, and heart-warming all at the same time. Since Danielle was shot, the video has been made private, but it can be found on other YouTube accounts.
Thursday morning one of Danielle’s friends received a terrifying e-mail from the woman.
Heather Allen, founder of HALO Animal Rescue, met Danielle when the autistic woman began volunteering at the shelter. In fact, Jacobs adopted her Rottweiler from that same shelter after she bonded with him while working there.
According to what Allen told CBS, she received an e-mail from Jacobs indicating that she was suicidal and that she was hoping someone would be able to take care of her dog. Due to Danielle’s autistic condition, the woman was prone to self-harming behavior, so Allen didn’t want to take any chances.
The woman called the police and asked them to intervene in order to save her friends life.
“Before the police arrived, she wasn’t posing a threat to the community at all,” Stacia Jacobs, Danielle’s mother, told the New York Daily News. “The police came into her own place. They shot and killed a 24-year-old autistic, mentally ill, individual whom they had been familiar with and aware of her special needs.”
A detective with the Mesa Police Department, Esteban Flores, explained that the officers had responded to a suicide call at the residence of the autistic woman in the past.
This time the police insist that Danielle had a knife in her hand.
“When she made contact with them, she approached them with a knife, extended it out, and they felt threatened,” Flores told AZ Family.
At that point the officers shot and killed Danielle Jacobs.
Allen admitted to CBS news that she wasn’t sure it would have been necessary for the autistic woman to be shot.
“I wasn’t there, so I don’t know how she was behaving. I wish they had been able to use non-lethal restraint, if they could have used a Taser or a beanbag gun,” Allen said. “She didn’t have a gun. She had a knife. It just seems to me there could have been a better way.”
Dr. Julian Maha, a champion to the autistic and founder of Kulture City, told The Mighty that this kind of tragedy could have been avoided if the police had been trained properly in how to communicate with an autistic person.
“This tragedy highlights the increased need for first responder training to teach first responders to effectively interact with autistic and special needs individuals. The training will give them much needed tools to effectively communicate with autistic individuals, help keep both parties safe and hopefully prevent tragedies like these.”
[Photo by YouTube]