Trigger warning: This article contains disturbing footage of an underage child under duress. Viewer discretion is advised.
A disturbing video circulating online has left the public appalled after an Indigenous boy with autism was handcuffed by Vancouver police last Thursday.
In the video, shared by the 12-year-old boy's mother, shows the boy held down on the floor by two Metro Vancouver Transit Police officers at BC Children’s Hospital.
The mother is heard in the background pleading the officers to let go of her son and that he was Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She can also be heard saying that he was reacting because he wasn't in the usual room at the hospital.
"I respect both #VancouverPolice and #TranslinkPolice but this was a first. We are at #bcchildrenshospital waiting to see a doctor. My kid has been diagnosed with conditions and I the parent do my best with his behaviour," Mia Brown wrote under the video.
"My kid wanted the usual waiting room, but it was taken so my son started whining, and a moment later he was pushed to the ground and handcuffed. My son was crying while the officer (with the glasses) had his knee on my kid’s back. I tried to take these men off my kid but I couldn’t even pull their hands off, so I started recording. I told the officer that what they just did to my kid was not right."
According to CBC, Transit police said they were called by a SkyTrain attendant at the Broadway-Commercial Station just before 5 p.m. that day.
They found the boy who was "physically assaulting a woman, later identified as his mother," their statement to the CBC said.
"Officers attempted to verbally de-escalate the situation, but the youth began trying to push their mother toward the tracks, causing an even greater concern for her safety."
They also added that the mother had a bloody face and the boy allegedly assaulted the SkyTrain attendant when they tried to intervene.
"The use of physical force is always a last resort," the transit police statement to the CBC said.
A statement from B.C. Children's Hospital said "providing an inclusive and culturally safe health-care environment for patients and their families is a top priority.''
The hospital says it has started a health and safety review into what happened, and its Indigenous health team has reached out to the boy's family to offer support.
The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) also issued a statement regarding the mistreatment of the young boy and said they were "appalled by the horrendous treatment" of the boy.
"Children deserve to be cared for with compassion, instead were met with callous violence. Our hands go up to the mother who acted bravely in such a horrific situation," the statement said.
We are appalled by the horrendous treatment of an indigenous boy by the Vancouver Transit Police. Children deserve to be cared for with compassion, instead were met with callous violence. Our hands go up to the mother who acted bravely in such a horrific situation. https://t.co/kFhGS0R6nH
— UBCIC (@UBCIC) January 28, 2023
People outraged by the incident
This is outrageous and deserves a trigger warning on the post. Where is the statement from the Premier denouncing this action?
— nupqu ʔa·kǂam̓ (@Skink00ts) January 28, 2023
I RTed because you said exactly what my girl and I did about this, but I can't bring myself to like anything that has this video in it. I just...can't.
— Meg Inwood (@InwoodMeg) January 28, 2023
Why are they holding the child down? In all these videos that is the thing I don’t get. You’ve got the person down, you have more force than them - the person should be brought immediately to a seated position.
And this is a child, who is being held face-down on a dirty floor.
— WinnaPig is AMMPed up! 🇨🇦 🌎 ♿️ (@WinnaPig) January 28, 2023
That is not okay 💔 poor kid I can’t understand how would they do such a thing to an autistic kid, I hope ppl share this video and raise awareness of how aggressive police officers are being this has to stop. https://t.co/NOwQj1VLCI
— Bella (@Bthequeen11) January 30, 2023
Police officers receive no training on how to deal with autistic individuals. Autistic individuals may act in ways the officers perceive as threatening, although they are not. It is sickening that police officers are willing to cuff a child because they are acting differently. https://t.co/pUe6UU4r8z
— nada☽ (@nadabdrabo) January 29, 2023
The poor child is traumatised for life.. the monsters clothed in uniform! https://t.co/lxpIOTzwku
— Asha (@AshaEsse) January 28, 2023
Appreciate being a police officer is a risky way 2 make a living. Handcuffing a 12 yr old & an adult putting a knee on a handcuffed child is over the top uncalled for bullying. Glad mom was there and kept her calm for the young man’s wellbeing. Not sure I would have been so calm. https://t.co/uPh0Y1HGb7
— Kukpi7Hawk (@Hawkvancouver) January 28, 2023