tragedy in South Chicago suburb

On Wednesday morning, police in Calumet City were called to the home of Stephon Watts, a 15-year old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. The police had been called to Stephon’s home 10 times over the past two years in response to Stephon’s behavior. Tragically, the visit on Wednesday ended in death. According to a story from the Chicago Tribune, Stephon, who had a knife, lashed out at the police officers. In response, Stephon was shot and killed.

The incident has raised questions from many in the community, including Stephon’s family. In the Tribune article, Stephon’s father was quoted to say, “"They're trained to disarm people . . . Why did they have to use deadly force on a 15-year-old autistic kid?"

Although every police officer on the Calumet City force attended a class last year about working with people with autism, some people are asking if one class is enough. Others are stressing that Stephon’s death stresses the need for more community supports and resources for people with disabilities and their families. Members of the south side community, including the Chicago South Side Autism Chapter are organizing calls to Governor Quinn, demanding that Illinois support families in need.

While there is a lot of discussion, and many things have been said, nearly everyone echoes the sentiment that the shooting death of Stepon Watt’s should never have happened.

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