Teenager With Autism Suffering a Seizure Handcuffed By Police After 911 Call, Family Says

A 16-year-old boy with autism was handcuffed by police after his family called paramedics for help when the teenager had a seizure inside a restaurant bathroom.

Lourdes Ponce told ABC30 that her son had an epileptic seizure while in a bathroom at an El Pollo Loco restaurant in Fresno, California, on Thursday evening.

She said she had told her daughter to call 911 for medical help, but it was police who arrived at the scene and handcuffed her son.

Video footage she provided to the station showed an officer restraining the boy with handcuffs and trying to push him into a patrol car.

"He has autism, he has epilepsy, stop it!" Ponce, of Delano, California, can be heard screaming in the clip, according to ABC30.

Ponce explained that her son had been to a doctor after suffering from epileptic seizures shortly before the incident in the restaurant.

She said she had been outside the bathroom door when she heard her son fall to the floor and called employees to unlock the door. Inside, she found her son on the ground and asked her daughter to call for help.

"We called paramedics for help, we did not call police," she told ABC30. "He was not hurting anybody, he was having a seizure."

She also said police didn't help her son even after he panicked and began vomiting. "He saw that my son was throwing up and instead of helping him so that he wouldn't choke on his vomit, they had him on the ground in handcuffs," she added.

It was only after Ponce ran to get paperwork from her car that showed her son had a history of epilepsy that paramedics were able to treat him and take him to the hospital, she said.

Ponce says he has been left traumatized by the encounter with police and is having difficulty being treated by staff at Valley Children's Hospital.

She said on Friday, police officers visited the hospital with a "certificate of release" form that said the boy will not be arrested.

Nevertheless, she is outraged by the treatment of her son and hopes police will receive better training on how to handle situations involving medical emergencies.

In a statement to Newsweek, Fresno police chief Andrew Hall said the boy's family member called 911 and said the teenager was being "combative and harming himself."

In a recording of the 911 call provided to Newsweek, the family member can be heard telling the dispatcher that her brother was "being very combative" after suffering a seizure and screaming can be heard in the background.

"The incoming recorded 911 call, confirms that the juvenile was screaming and making threats to kill his family," Hall said. "Handcuffs were used to restrain the 16-year-old to prevent him from harming himself or others until the requested ambulance could arrive."

Hall added: "The entire event is being reviewed by our Internal Affairs Unit and ultimately by the City of Fresno's Office of Independent Review."

Newsweek contacted El Pollo Loco and Valley Children's Hospital for comment.

This article has been updated with information and a comment from Fresno Police.

arrest
Stock photo. A 16-year-old boy with autism was handcuffed by police after his family called 911 when he had an epileptic seizure. Getty