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Autistic Black Teen Arrested: Police Thought He Had Gun

Reginald Cornelius "Neli" Latson, an 18-year-old Virginia man with Asperger’s syndrome, faces one count of malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer, one count of assault and battery of a law enforcement officer, and one count of knowingly disarming a police officer in performance of his official duties, following an incident in a high school parking lot.

Stafford County deputies received a report of an armed person outside of a library, which prompted a lockdown of six schools in Stafford County, including a high school.

From WJLA in Washington, DC:

Stafford County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Bill Kennedy says it all began at 8:38 a.m. with the report of an armed person in the parking lot of a library across from Park Ridge Elementary. The threat prompted a lockdown of six schools in Stafford County, including the high school, which is separated from the library and elementary school area by a wooded area.

Kennedy says deputies saturated the area after the call. About 20 minutes later, a Stafford High School resource officer spotted a man matching the description of the lookout. While the man was being questioned, he became irate and attacked the school resource officer, who is also a sheriff’s deputy, investigators said.

The man repeatedly struck the deputy, who pepper-sprayed the man, according to the Sheriff’s office. During the struggle, the assailant was able to wrest the pepper spray for the deputy and sprayed him, investigators said.

The man then fled. The deputy, Thomas Calverley, suffered head laceration, cuts, abrasions and a broken ankle. He was scheduled for surgery on the ankle this afternoon.

Latson was located in the woods about 45 minutes later by a canine officer and his dog, Vader. Investigators never found a gun, and now say the initial caller never actually saw a weapon.

Latson is currently being held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail under no bond.

You can read more about the case at this website started by Neli’s family.

“The actions that were taken by the police that day were excessive in the least and grossly mishandled,” writes Neli’s mother. “Someone says I see a suspicious black male and he “could” have a gun, while all my son was doing was sitting in the grass at the library. And you shut down six schools and go out on a manhunt for this dangerous black man who was sitting in the grass. Anyone reading this story can read between the lines and see that this just doesn’t add up.”

You can read the Stafford County Sheriff Dept. news release here.


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