A 10-year-old autistic Florida boy who had been expelled from school last year returned to the same school last week after receiving an invitation to take a standard assessment test.
But he was promptly arrested for a warrant neither he or his mother were aware even existed.
His mother, Luanne Haygood, recorded the arrest on Wednesday, informing the Okeechobee County sheriff’s deputies that her son is on the autism spectrum.
But they proceeded to handcuff and transport him to jail anyway where he remained until the following morning. And they later claimed they had no idea he was autistic.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” the boy, John Haygood, repeatedly said through tears as he was being arrested. “I didn’t know I was going to get arrested.”
“Neither did I,” responded his mother as she recorded.
They placed him in the back of a patrol car and drove him away, leaving the mother standing there with many questions that have yet to be answered.
“When he was saying, ‘I don’t understand mama, I don’t understand. What’s going on’? That broke my heart,” Luanne Haygood told KFOR.
The boy was released from jail after appearing before a judge in an oversized jumpsuit on Thursday.
“For him to come in, in a jumpsuit that is covering his feet and six inches past his hand and when the judge asks him to raise his right hand we couldn’t even find it,” Luanne Haygood recalled.
An October 27 incident report from the Okeechobee Achievement Academy states that 10-year-old John Haygood was being disruptive in class, throwing paper balls at other students so his teacher asked him to go to time-out.
When he refused, his teacher attempted to physically remove him, which resulted in scratch marks on the teacher’s arm because he resisted.
Haygood was expelled from school and forced to complete his schoolwork from home.
At some point, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office issued a warrant for battery on a school employee against him, but they never got around to serving the warrant Wednesday, almost six months after the original incident.
Haygood showed up to the school campus with his mother after receiving an invitation to take the Florida Standards Assessment test.
But instead of taking the test, he was handcuffed and driven to jail by two deputies after a school resource officer recognized him and called 911.
The school tried to wipe its hands of responsibility by laying blame solely on the cops, releasing the following statement:
“It has been district procedure to invite students in to take the Florida Standards Assessment. The district would not invite someone to one of our campuses for the sole purpose to arrest.”
John’s mother, Luanne, said she was surprised and had no idea a warrant had been issued for her son’s arrest. Especially a warrant for battery on a school employee over an incident that took place eight months ago.
‘To go and have him arrested on school grounds in front of other students, in front of personnel, during school hours, they could’ve come to my house at any time to tell me what was going on,” she said.
Autism expert, executive director of the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, Dr. Jack Scott told WPTV he thought the arrest was “deplorable.”
“I find it deplorable, when I saw it in the video,” Scott said. “This should never be handled criminally in my view.”
The judge set Haygood’s court date for May 11 and said he’d take his autism into consideration when deciding the outcome of his case.
Haygood’s mother stated she plans to hire an attorney to fight for his innocence.