A sad event on Father's Day.
The cousin of a man shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in a California Costco says his relative was nonverbal and couldn't have started the argument that allegedly led to the shooting, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
The articles do not say autism, but the photo shows a man with no hint of disability in his demeanor or looks. He's was a tall, handsome guy who would turn heads and get "swipes" left or right or whatever direction means a Tinder yes. He was described as non-verbal. We'll respect that diagnosis is not known at this time. I think most of us immediately thought "autism," though.
How could an argument happen if Kenneth could not speak? That's hardly a quandary. It's called an antecedent. Something sets off a behavior.
I'll use my own daughters as an example. They are gorgeous, and at first glance, no one knows they have autism. At first glance. But at any moment, one of my girls might reach out and grab your hand to say "helloooooooooo," with a giggling smile. Seems cute? It scares people when it takes them by surprise. And she's 5' 3" 120 pounds. Another of my girls taps people to get their attention - she does not speak. Sometimes the tap is as light as a feather. Sometimes not. How do you think that's received in a crowded grocery story aisle? Not always well. And rightly so. I try to keep my girls at "eyes on, arm's length," so as not to crowd them and to help them develop independence and have a bit of dignity. They aren't Hannibal Lecter. Kenneth's cousin reports that he was "a gentle giant."
The article says the off duty policeman had a child in his arms. Ah ha. What if Kenneth French LOVED babies and he reached out to touch the baby? How would a father react? What if Kenneth was frightened of babies because he knew they CRY and are loud and so he made a less friendly gesture? How would a father react?
But how should an off duty police officer react? With civility and control. We know that officers often fail that test.
We'll follow the story. Perhaps the officer himself is devastated by his actions. We're so sorry for the French family.