A stun gun was used on a 15-year-old Middle College High School autistic student by campus police on April 20, after officers were called to his class following an outburst, according to campus officials.
Anthony Jones has Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, according to a campus release.
MCHS Principal Sherry Balian said Jones was not displaying “typical student behavior” during his class. His actions escalated to the point that campus police had to be called to calm the situation, she said.
Campus police confirm a taser was discharged on campus, but would not provide any additional information due to an on-going investigation.
The following day, Interim Delta College President Dr. Susan Cota sent out an email to two campus email lists with the subject “student incident.”
“The College cannot comment on the incident because of the privacy rights of the student, and because there is an on-going investigation. The only comment that can be made is that a preliminary review of the incident indicates that campus police officers acted lawfully and appropriately to ensure the safety and security of students and staff at the campus,” said Cota in the statement.
The release also stated that Jones’ fellow students were fearful he might attempt suicide.
A television news report on Sacramento-based KCRA 3 included an interview with Jones’ grandfather Don Arlt of Stockton.
“I believe tasers are used too freely these days,” he said.
Efforts to contact Jones’ mother through social-networking site Facebook were unanswered.
Delta College Police Sgt. Mario Vasquez answered questions about campus police policy, but would not talk directly about the case.
Stun guns, he said, are a last resort for ensuring safety on campus, he said. Officers are trained to use non-physical means of controlling a dangerous situation first, he added.
“If someone is acting violent, we try to use verbal commands,” he said. “If they do not respond to verbal commands, we then move onto force.”
Campus police have carried stun gun style weapons since 2002. Vasquez said in the more than nine-year period since they were issued, the weapons have only been discharged five times.
“Normally, they are used as a deterrent,” he said.
Both Cota’s statement and Balian praise police action.
“The police acted very appropriately and I am very thankful for their help,” said Balian.
Cota ended the statement with similar sentiment.
“The student and the campus community are fortunate that we have a campus police department that acted in such a swift and appropriate manner,” she said.
Officials from both Delta College and MCHS are unable to comment on whether Jones will be returning to campus.