Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gray, Maine: Autistic Gray man, Benjamin McLatchie, 22, killed by his father Daniel McLatchie

Police say the man, who also shot himself, may have been worried about his son's care in the future.
By Dennis Hoey
Staff Writer

GRAY - A father shot and killed his autistic son Tuesday at their home on Yarmouth Road before turning the rifle on himself, Maine State Police said.

Cumberland County sheriff's deputies found the bodies of Daniel McLatchie, 44, and his son, Benjamin McLatchie, 22, in the family's driveway at 227 Yarmouth Road around 2:30 p.m.

The driveway, which is several hundred feet long, slopes down from Yarmouth Road -- part of Route 115 -- before ending at a white, two-story, Cape-style home surrounded by woods.

State police Sgt. Chris Harriman said the sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call. He did not say who made the call.

He said it appeared that Daniel McLatchie was upset about what would happen to his autistic son after he and his wife died. He was a stay-at-home father, Harriman said.

Daniel McLatchie's wife, Allison McLatchie, 45, was at work when the shootings happened.

Harriman said she is a teacher at the Collaborative School on the Pineland Campus in New Gloucester. According to its website, the school serves students from ages 5 to 19 who are eligible for special education services because of emotional or related disabilities.

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Marguerite Dewitt examined the bodies in Gray. She determined that McLatchie and his son died from gunshot wounds. A rifle was found near the bodies.

The bodies were taken to Augusta, where the state Medical Examiner's Office is expected to do autopsies today.

Harriman would not characterize the shootings as a murder-suicide, but said during a press conference, "We do believe there were no other people involved."

Mary Keith has lived nearby on Yarmouth Road for 10 years, but said she never got to know the McLatchies. She said the family moved into the neighborhood about six years ago.

Ginger Taylor of Brunswick, who writes the blog "Adventures in Autism" and whose 8-year-old son has been diagnosed with autism, said she doesn't know the McLatchies, but noted there are pressures for families with autistic children.

"Having an autistic child is, on a social level, very hard because it can be very isolating. You don't get to be part of those social circles anymore and you can't participate in the life of the town. There are just so many challenges," said Taylor, who has organized Greater Brunswick Special Families, a support group for parents of autistic children.

She said there is "a huge tidal wave of autistic children born in the 1980s and 1990s who are coming of age." Parents who care for autistic children at home need greater support, such as respite care and counseling, she said.

Taylor said one of the most common fears for parents with autistic children is what will happen to the children after the parents are gone.

"That is the big question -- what happens to our child when we die," she said. "We understand their needs better than anyone else. It really breaks my heart hearing what happened to this family. It shouldn't be like that."

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lexington, Kentucky: 21 year old Roland Campbell dies while being held down by police

Roland Campbell, 21

Mother wants answers in autistic son's death while in police custody
By Josh Kegley —
Posted: 12:00am on Apr 20, 2010

A mother has asked Lexington police and medical providers for details surrounding her autistic son's death after officers tried to handcuff him at a group home for mentally disabled people Sunday.

Roland Campbell, 21, was pronounced dead at St. Joseph Hospital at 4:33 p.m., according to a coroner's report. A cause of death had not been determined Monday, but preliminary autopsy results ruled out physical trauma and disease, Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn said. Ginn said Campbell had superficial lacerations on his hand.

Police received a call about 3:30 p.m. Sunday regarding "a mentally challenged subject that was out of control" at a home on Waco Road, police Cmdr. Ron Compton said.

At a Monday news conference, Compton said all Lexington officers are trained to respond to people with mental disabilities. He said that he didn't think the two responding officers had violated procedure but that an investigation was ongoing.

Roland Campbell's brothers, Roman Campbell, 21, and Ceasar Cook, 29, said they had been told that their brother had become enraged, turning over tables and breaking items inside the home.
Officers initially handcuffed Roland Campbell without incident, intending to take him into emergency detention. Compton said physical evidence at the scene and witnesses' statements indicated that Campbell was "a danger to himself and others."

Compton said that Campbell became violent and escaped his restraints, and that when officers were cuffing him a second time, he lost consciousness. The officers performed CPR until emergency medical personnel arrived.

Roman Campbell questioned whether police used too much force when restraining his brother, who he said was severely autistic and could not speak.

"He's confused. When they come in jumping on him like that, he's not thinking like we would be thinking, like, 'Oh, we got to calm down, the police are here,'" Roman Campbell said.

Pecola Campbell said that her son had lived with two other disabled men and a caretaker at the home since September and that he was normally "sweet and happy." She said Roland Campbell would not have acted violently unless he had been provoked or felt threatened.

Roland Campbell took several medications that affected his mood, she said. Roman Campbell said his brother might have acted violently if he had been given the wrong medication.

A statement released by Linda Hill, owner of Adult Daycare of Lexington Inc., said "the death was not the result of any action or inaction" of the ADC staff.

ADC, which runs the Waco Road home, contracts with the state Medicaid program to provide services under the Supports for Community Living program. The program allows people with intellectual or developmental disabilities to receive care in a homelike setting, rather than an institution.

Pecola Campbell said Roland Campbell liked listening to music and was fascinated by flashing lights on police cars. She said when he was agitated he was easily calmed by the feel of cotton fabric.

"Even though he couldn't speak, he was still the nicest person you could meet," said Roman Campbell.

Pecola Campbell said she would find out what happened to her son no matter what it took.

"I have nothing to lose now," she said.

Read more:

Nov 18, 2010
By Josh Kegley | Kentucky

The Fayette County coroner’s office will not conduct an investigation into the death of a 21-year-old autistic man in police custody.

Roland Campbell, who was severely autistic and could not speak, stopped breathing April 18 while being held down by two Lexington police officers and a caretaker at a group home owned by Adult Day Care Inc. of Lexington.

The cause of death was acute cardiorespiratory failure, a type of heart failure, according to an autopsy performed by the state’s associate chief medical examiner. The manner of death — whether the death was an accident, suicide, homicide or from natural causes — is listed as undetermined pending investigation into the events leading up to it.

Campbell’s autopsy was completed in July. The Fayette County coroner’s office released a copy to the Herald-Leader on Tuesday.

Both the state medical examiner and a state advocacy group for the mentally disabled suggested a coroner’s inquest, an investigation into the events surrounding the death.

“One option is to conduct a coroner’s inquest, which should include taking sworn testimony and going to the Waco residence to perform the re-enactment,” associate chief medical examiner John Hunsaker III said in the autopsy report.

However, Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn said Wednesday legal counselors advised him not to conduct the inquest.
Ginn said any such investigation should come from the courts if a civil lawsuit is filed. There is no guarantee, he said, an inquest would reveal anything.
“It could become inconclusive, which could put us back to square one,” he said. “I don’t see using the county’s funds for that.”

Individual investigations by the Lexington police department and Adult Day Care have been closed.

The police investigation was closed after the autopsy was completed in July, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said. Police have said responding officers acted appropriately to subdue a man who was “a danger to himself and others.”

Police were called after Campbell began destroying items in the home and lashing out at caretakers, reports say.

An attorney for Adult Day Care, Jill Hall Rose, said the company’s internal investigation and an investigation by the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services ordered caretakers to be retrained to handle emergency situations, but no further actions were pending.

“The department found the home did nothing that contributed to the death,” she said.
Kentucky Protection and Advocacy, a group that supports the mentally disabled, has been investigating the death since May. Director Marsha Hockensmith said the investigations by police and Adult Day Care may not tell the whole story.

“You had so many folks involved in this,” Hockensmith said.

“It’s like there are pockets of investigation … being done, but they never meet in the middle,” she said.

Campbell’s heart failure was brought on by several conditions, including lack of oxygen, dehydration, physical exhaustion, possible medication intoxication and “autism-induced excited delirium during prone restraint,” the autopsy said.

Several incident reports from police and witness statements were included in the autopsy report.
According to documents, officers responded to an Adult Day Care group home at 2961 Waco Road after Campbell began destroying furniture and other items.

Campbell, who was breathing heavily and was covered in sweat, had pulled down a refrigerator and destroyed light fixtures, electrical outlets and furniture before jumping out a window, reports said.

Officers were called to take Campbell into emergency protective custody, police have said.
Two officers, Derrick Wallace and Matthew Smith, and Adult Day Care employee Eric Hatter had pinned down the flailing man with a blanket while trying to handcuff him when he “suddenly stopped moving.”

Officers performed CPR until an ambulance arrived.

According to reports, pepper spray and Tasers were not used on Campbell. At no point was pressure put on his neck or head, the report said.

However, police reports and witness statements do not say whether pressure was placed on Campbell’s back while he was being restrained.

According to the autopsy, “sitting, lying, kneeling, standing or manually pushing on the back needs to be considered because it may cause mechanical interference with breathing.”

The report continued, “Death via trunk compression typically (takes) a couple minutes, so establishing duration of such restraint, if any, is crucial to the investigation.”
Ginn said he did not see any criminal intent in the case.

“This is a civil litigation,” he said. “The courts would handle this rather than me.”
It was unclear Wednesday if a civil lawsuit will be filed.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Villa Rica, Georgia: Missing Autistic 6-Year-Old, Christian Dejons, Found Dead In Lake

Villa Rica boy's death ruled accidental

By Marcus K. Garner and Kristi E. Swartz

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

So, it was easy for the 6-year-old Villa Rica boy to wander off toward it.

Christian Dejons went missing on Wednesday. His body was found in the lake later that day.

His death was ruled as an accident, Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Capt. Bobby Holmes said Friday.

"There's no foul play. He just wandered off and got in the water," Holmes told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday.

Dejon was spotted around 3:30 p.m. by a Douglas sheriff's deputy flying in a Georgia State Patrol helicopter over a lake in the Mirror Lake subdivision, Holmes said.

"The deputy saw something that looked like a body in the water," Holmes said. "They landed the helicopter, and the deputy went in and got the little boy and began CPR."

Emergency crews tried to revive the boy, and he was taken to Tanner Medical Center in Villa Rica where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.