NEAR ASHLAND, Ore. — The father of a girl with autism who was tased by an Oregon State Trooper is calling the action excessive. Oregon State Police say the action may have saved her life.
The 11-year-old girl was found naked, wandering along Interstate 5 in the early morning hours. She was spotted by a passing cab driver, who stopped and called 911. That man says he was there when the State Trooper tased the girl.
Aram Hampson was not there when his daughter was tased, but says after hearing the witness account, he believes triggering a taser was too aggressive.
“From his report, she warned my daughter twice, who doesn’t respond verbally at all, and then tased her,” he said.
Hampson says his daughter has a severe case of autism. He says she cannot carry on a conversation and she tends to run away from home often.
“You can just tell you’re not dealing with a regular person who’s either on drugs or anything else,” explained Hampson. “Physically (she) does not look like an average 11-year-old. She’s kind of, you know, husky,” he added. Hampson believes this is why his pre-teen daughter was mistaken for a woman by authorities.
“Maybe it’s a little overused. It was not necessary. There wasn’t any threat to the officers, and from the witness report, it wasn’t like she was in any immediate threat,” he said.
The cab driver who originally called 911 told NewsWatch 12 that the girl was along the edge of the road and not in traffic. Oregon State Police Lt. Kelly Collins say tasing her most likely saved her life. Lt. Collins was not the trooper who responded to the call but spoke on behalf of OSP. He says the trooper saw the girl in danger and running onto the interstate.
Lt. Collins says the trooper was not aware of the girl’s diagnosis and she was under the impression that the girl was much older.
“This was not your normal 11 -year-old, and the fact that she was 11, shocked me when we found out her actual age,” said Collins.
“Ultimately, we want to use the least amount of force necessary so based on that she takes what she has to deal with and has to make a split second decision. And the fact that this individual was running into lanes of traffic on I5 and back, she felt it was best for everybody,” said Collins.
OSP says when they come across people who are naked they are often dealing with someone who is on drugs. They call it excited delirium. Lt. Collins says in this state a person’s body can overheat, causing them to take off their clothes. Lt. Collins says previous experiences like that may have played a role in the trooper’s decision as well. The trooper who deployed her taser is not on a suspension or administrative leave of any kind. However, OSP is still investigating the incident.
This is not the first time Oregon State Troopers have encountered the girl. Other troopers have responded to calls before concerning her leaving home. Hampson says their home is safe and secure – and in this instance his daughter removed a screw that kept her window closed to get out of the house.
UPDATE: Oregon State Police have released a statement regarding this incident: Click Here to read more.