Last week, I watched an episode of the crime TV series, “Blue Bloods” starring Donnie Wahlberg, (brother of Mark), and former “Magnum PI” star Tom Selleck. In this episode, a young man with obvious special needs shoots the mayor of New York City while at a community meeting. The man is arrested and questioned by two detectives who seem oblivious to the suspect’s Autism. The detectives don’t believe him when the suspect claims that the gangbangers who passed him the gun told him it was a cap gun. Instead, because of the man’s autism, the detectives use it against him in order to get him to confess to trying to kill the mayor. Fortunately, one of the main characters, who is a cop, had met the suspect before and knew of his Autism. Eventually, there is a happy ending where the shooter is cleared and the gang who got him to commit the deed gets arrested. However, what I took from that episode was that the police definitely do not know how to deal with people with Autism.
My story didn’t have a happy ending like that and when it happened, I knew there was something not quite right with me but I had never heard of the Autistic Spectrum or Asperger’s Syndrome or DAMP, which I believe I have. In my case, I wasn’t a suspect but the victim. I had over a thousand dollars taken from the top drawer in my bedroom. I know what you’re thinking, why didn’t I put it in the bank? The story there was about a month before, I filed my yearly income tax and found that I owed the US government $120, the main cause of which was interest earned from money in the bank. My Asperger’s logic was that if I put it in the bank, then the government would steal it in taxes.
I reported the theft to the police who then called me in to take a polygraph. I also had to write out a statement. Before the polygraph, I was asked if I had taken any drugs the night before. Here’s when it went downhill, I admitted smoking half a joint of grass. I smoked the stuff back then, often it was the occasional joint or a little more if I was partying with friends. It wasn’t something I did full time, not that it matter to the cop administering the test. He did ask me what other drugs I’ve done and I had done cocaine a couple of times in my life. Never bought the stuff in my life.
When the test results came back, the detective told me that there were a couple of occasions where I lied. The big one was that I took for granted that the money was still in my drawer the morning of the robbery but on further reflection, I realised that I had only taken it for granted it was there, a genuine mistake. But it wasn’t such a mistake to the two detectives! For them, it was grounds to disbelieve the fact that my money had been stolen. Because I had smoked half a joint the night before, admitted to snorting a couple of lines of coke in my life and worked in Atlantic City, that I must have taken that money out and went to buy drugs in Atlantic City and possibly got ripped off on a dodgy deal. Despite my protests, they continued to press this fact and get me to confess that I had done this, I hadn’t. Unfortunately, it didn’t help my case that I eventually agreed with the one detective that I might have lost my money. That was another problem with my Asperger’s mind, throughout my life, I have been made to feel that I’m always wrong and it was the case here. Still, those cops were convinced I was a drug taking liar. Therefore, the case was never solved, maybe to them but not me.
Another facet with my Autism is that things take a long time to process in my mind. A few months later, I realised who might have taken my money, it would have been my mother’s boyfriend at the time. While, I couldn’t prove it and he has long since passed away, the circumstantial evidence points to him. Still, even if I had gone to the cops at the time, I don’t think they would have believed me anyway.
The lesson to be learned for anyone with Autism when questioned by the police is to not to say anything to them until you’ve spoken to legal counsel. Make sure the lawyer knows of your Autism as they will be better equipped to represent you. This way what happened to me and even the character on “Blue Bloods” won’t happen to you. Because sure as hell, the police don’t understand Asperger’s Syndrome.
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