OGDEN (ABC4 News) – A rally drew people to Ogden on Saturday to call for police reform after a Salt Lake City Police officer shot a 13-year-old boy with autism, putting him the hospital.
Saturday’s rally began with everyone in attendance shouting in unison the name of Linden Cameron.
They held signs that read, “justice for Linden Cameron” and “he is our heart, we are his voice.”
On Friday, September 4, 2020, the mother of 13-year-old Linden Cameron reportedly called 911 for help during her son’s “mental health episode.”
The Salt Lake City Police Department said, when officers arrived at 500 South and Navajo Street, they had tried to talk to Linden, but he ran off. Officers reportedly ran after Linden until one police officer fired his gun, hitting the 13-year-old.
According to a GoFundMe set up in Linden Cameron’s name, “the shooting has left Linden in the hospital with injuries to his shoulder, both ankles, intestines and bladder.”
The group El Comité Social Justice Movement hosted the rally, titled on Facebook, “Autism is NOT a Death Sentence,” in front of the Ogden Municipal Building.
Organizers explained that they held the event in Ogden, even though the shooting was in Salt Lake City, to highlight that police brutality “is not a Salt Lake City problem. It’s not even a Utah problem. It’s a problem that exists on a national scale.”
Speakers addressed the crowd with a bullhorn, calling for a change in the culture of policing, to prevent what happened to Linden Cameron from happening to anyone else.
A speaker with El Comité Social Justice Movement at one point acknowledged that police officers have a difficult job that requires them to make split-second decisions. He also acknowledged that officers do receive some training to deal with situations like Linden’s, but he said, “you can have all the best training in the world, but if your mindset is to shoot and kill, then all that training is of no use.”
Crisis Intervention Team Utah is a non-profit organization that trains officers on best practices for crisis response and resolution. Board President Sherri Wittwer told ABC4 News that officers need to understand autism to de-escalate situations like Linden’s.
Salt Lake City Police Department does not use CIT’s training program. They developed their own in-house crisis response program, and, in an interview from 2019, Detective Joseph Taylor assured ABC4’s Rick Aaron that it’s equal to CIT’s.
The Salt Lake City Police Department said a Civilian Review Board and their own Internal Affairs Department are investigating the shooting, but the department will not comment further on the incident until they release the body camera video sometime on or before September 21st, ten business days following the initial incident.