Glynn County police struggled Saturday night with a large young man who has “non-verbal autism” and who appeared to pose a threat to others and himself in the Beverly Shores Community off of Altama Avenue, according to police reports and an officer’s body camera video.
Officers attempted to subdue the shirtless and shoeless man with Taser shots eight times over several minutes. Each Taser probe that hit him caused cries of pain, after which the man appeared unfazed.
The body camera video was posted Tuesday on the Glynn County Police Department Facebook page.
Officers repeatedly ordered the 21-year-old man to comply with orders, trying at times to assure him they wanted to help. However, he did not appear to understand and made no attempt at a response. He walked and ran away from officers and ignored commands to get on the ground.
An officer eventually tackled the man into a grassy area, leading to a struggle on the ground lasting several minutes and involving multiple officers before he was handcuffed and subdued.
Speaking calmly and calling him “buddy,” officers helped the cuffed man to his feet and into the back of a patrol vehicle.
He was taken to Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick hospital for a medical check due to the number of times he was Tased, the police report indicated.
Hospital officials released the man to his mother, the report said.
He had slipped out of his home undetected while under the supervision of a sibling, police reported. He was not arrested and The News is not releasing his name.
Police received a call at 8:24 p.m. Saturday that a man in “blue basketball shorts was walking on Stafford Avenue with crow bar or knife in his hand” and “running towards vehicles and ‘flipping out,’” the report said.
Police also were told “he was starting to hit himself in the head,” the report said.
When police arrived, the man can be seen on body camera video walking absently toward an officer with a large metal object in his hand. He ignored the officer’s demand to “drop it!” The officer then fired a Taser shot, hitting him in the chest, at which point the metal object dropped from his hand to the pavement with a metallic clang, the body cam footage shows.
He ran a short distance before stopping and appeared to be pulling the Taser probe from his chest. A second Taser caused him to cry out again and drop to the ground, after which he stood up and escaped the grasp of officers.
“Get on the ground! Get on the ground!” officers ordered, getting no response from the man.
“Get on the ground so we can get you help,” another officer said.
A woman can be heard screaming at police in the background throughout much of the incident.
“He is non-verbal!” she told police. “He has autism!”
“We understand, ma’am!” an officer replied. “We’re trying to help him.”
He ran a short distance, with officers following and keeping him surrounded, the body cam shows.
After the officer tackled him to the ground, there was a call for “wide cuffs” to fit the big man’s wrists.
Police spoke calmly with him once he was inside the patrol vehicle.
“Can you have a seat for me, buddy?”
“I’ll let you talk to your sister.”
The man became cooperative at the hospital, police reported.
“By speaking calmly with (the man), we were able to get him to sit in a wheelchair,” the report said. “He was calm and cooperative the whole time.”
An officer suspected the object the man carried was a heavy wrench, but it turned out to be a large ladle.
Afterward, some officers were treated for minor injuries at the hospital, police said.
The police department is conducting an administrative review of the incident. In a statement issued Tuesday, Glynn County Police Chief Jacques Battiste praised the officers’ handling of the situation.
“I commend the officers for using less than lethal force and for their ability to read the terrain as the event unfolded, preventing loss of life or serious injury to anyone involved,” Battiste said.