A 10-year-old boy with autism whose arrest at his Florida school was caught on tape and led to widespread outrage still faces criminal charges months later.
The boy’s mom, Luanne Haygood, recently told WPTV that the state refuses to drop the charges against her son because he had at least 55 other documented cases of aggressive behavior against teachers and students. Instead, prosecutors are allegedly recommending that the 10-year-old undergo a diversion program.
“It certainly needs to be dismissed,” the mother said.
The mother recorded the April 12 arrest during which a school resource officer at the Okeechobee Achievement Academy is seen standing over John Benjamin Haygood before grabbing for his wrists.
“I don’t want to be touched,” the boy is heard saying as he struggles to free his arms. “I don’t like to be touched.”
“I don’t know what’s going on, Mama! I don’t understand.”
“I know, honey,” Haygood tells her son. “He has autism—he doesn’t know what’s going on, he’s scared to death, he’s 10 years old!”
His mother was recorded asking officers if she could ride with her son to jail—but is told no by one of the officers. She later told The Washington Post that her son spent the night in a juvenile facility.
According to The Post, the child’s arrest stemmed from an outstanding warrant issued in October for battery on a school board employee. The mother claimed that she and her family were unaware that the 10-year-old had a warrant out for his arrest.
John Benjamin Haygood is accused of scratching, kicking, and threatening his paraprofessional educator. However, his mother told the newspaper that her son claimed the educator had pinched him and that the school refused to assign him a new one.
CBS News noted that the boy had reported to the school for the first time in five months to undergo standardized testing. It was then that a resource officer recognized him and confirmed that he had an open warrant.
The Okeechobee County mother told WPTV that her son hasn’t returned to school as they wait for an acceptable placement. She maintained that a diversion program isn’t going to help her 10-year-old learn to manage his autism.
“We’re right where we were at the beginning,” she said.
[Featured Image: John Benjamin Haygood/WPTV video screenshot]