Tuesday, May 8, 2007

An Encouraging Sign


photo credit-Steve Brandon

St. Louis Police Chief Joe Mokwa announced Monday that a special law enforcement task-force has been assigned to the Christian Ferguson case.

He was 9 years old when he mysteriously disappeared from the SUV his father was driving, at a north St. Louis intersection, on June 11, 2003. Dawan Ferguson told police that Christian was in his car when it was stolen. Dawan had gotten out of his vehicle to use a pay phone at Skinker and Page. ...


So begins a story from the online site of KSDK, a TV station in St. Louis, Missouri. It's not unusual that the police would take a close look at such a case.

...Mokwa said the new task-force will consist of a sergeant, two detectives, two FBI agents, and a command officer. ...


which are a lot of resources to devote to just one case. What's even more unusual is that they are doing so in a case where the victim was poor, black, and severely physically and developmentally disabled (as far as I know he was not autistic, but you get the point).

In this case, the father of the child reported that he stopped to use a pay phone, and left the child in the car. While he was reportedly on the phone he says that the car was carjacked. The empty car was found two hours later a few miles away.

There were many inconsistencies in the story, such as the fact that the father had a cell phone in the car at the time, and a witness who reported seeing the car at the place where it was found at approximately the same time that it was reported stolen. The police reportedly never believed the father's story, but have turned up no evidence of foul play thus far.

I've been critical, as well as worried, regarding how society and law enforcement deal with the death and treatment of disabled individuals. So I have to be even handed and give props to Chief Mokwa of the St. Louis police department for pursuing this case, even though the family is not wealthy or politically connected, and even though the child was severely disabled. The world would be a better place if there were more such individuals who recognized the humanity in all individuals, and who were willing to stand up for those without the power or means to stand up for themselves.

Lastly, let's hope that anyone that knows anything with regards to what really happened will stand up and be counted.

3 comments:

Nicky Palmer said...

It seems to me, that there are very few incidents of crime perpetrated by people with autism. I am only familiar with two cases out of approx 500 families I have known. Unfortunately, it seems much more likely that people on the autism spectrum are victims of crimes such as, physical, sexual and emotional abuse. According to one study 80% of developmental disabled females were victims of sexual abuse. I hope we can all work together to help people with autism communicate crimes against them and provide them with the emotional support that they need to get through traumatic events.
Nicky Palmer Licensed Marital Family Therapist
www.asdhelp.com

kristina said...

This happened almost four years ago----what might have happened to Christian Ferguson in the intervening years?

Club 166 said...

Nicky,

Indeed, this is the message that needs to get out-that when it comes to violence and those on the autism spectrum, they are most likely on the receiving end, not perpetrating it.

Unfortunately, as diagnostic criteria for autism has widened, and many have other co-diagnoses, it has become more statistically probable that some autistic person will perpetrate a crime, and because of the novelty the media will be all over it and paint all autistics as violent lunatics waiting to explode.

Kristina,

This story was big around here when it happened. The police and media were all over it for about 6 months (a relatively long time) before it fell off the radar of most folks. The prevailing feeling back then (and now) is that the father killed the child. No one's been able to prove it thus far. I think the police are hoping that this time someone who knows something will speak up.