She signed her son up for a tennis program where officers volunteer. He was put in handcuffs.

Posted at 6:28 PM, Dec 29, 2022
and last updated 2023-01-02 14:01:02-05

RICHMOND, Va. — Shelia Jackson wanted her son who has autism to feel comfortable around police officers.

Her uncle was an officer and she has a lot of respect for what they do.

"I wanted him to have a positive view of police officers and not all the negativity he sees on TV," Jackson said.

She signed him up for the after-school tennis program at Virginia Commonwealth University, where officers from the Richmond Police Department volunteer through the Richmond Police Athletic League.

But, on Nov. 3, Jackson showed up at the tennis courts to find her son on the ground in handcuffs.

"We ended up going to VCU emergency room. They diagnosed him with a TBI concussion," Jackson said.

Jackson said the staff at the tennis program said her son was getting frustrated on his serves, and they told him to practice off to the side. But she is unclear on what happened next.

Her son said one of the police officers raised her voice at him, and he started to walk away from her.

"He knows to try to self-regulate and walk away from a situation, she may have thought he was being defiant," Jackson said.

After that, Jackson said her son said the officer grabbed him.

"When I got here my son was handcuffed on the ground right behind where that fence is opened," Jackson said. "There was an officer holding his head, there was an officer on his left leg, someone on his right leg, there was an officer on his right side kneeling holding his shoulders down and then there was another officer standing up."

Jackson said Richmond Police told her that her son headbutted an officer while they detained him, and they were worried he was going to run.

But she is still not sure why he was handcuffed, and what exactly happened that caused him to get a concussion.

"That is not how he should be dealt with, not only my son, anyone," Jackson said. "Where is the training? Are you just going to the training and you're not taking it in?"

Jackson said she has spoken to various people with the Richmond Police Department about the incident a number of times, but she still has not gotten answers to her questions.

The police report she paid $5 for does not have an incident description.

A spokesperson for the Richmond Police Department said they are conducting an internal investigation that is ongoing, and they could not provide any more details at this time.

While Jackson waits for the outcome, she worries about her son's mental health.

She said he went from having the best grades in his grade in middle school, to having trouble making it through a school day.

"As soon as the concussion it's like bam bam bam.  I'm like 'oh my gosh' it's something every day," Jackson said.

VCU Police said they responded to a call for service related to a disturbance involving a juvenile and Richmond Police, but the juvenile and their parent were no longer present when they arrived.

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