SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH- The family of a boy with autism who was shot by police in Utah has reached a $3 million settlement following a lawsuit filed after officers shot the 13-year-old boy, leaving him critically injured after respond to her mother’s call for help in the middle of a crisis by calling 911.
The shooting in September 2020 drew widespread scrutiny and was one of several in the US in recent years that have raised questions about how police respond to calls involving people with mental illness.
Linden Cameron, now 15, survived the shooting but suffered life-changing injuries and emotional trauma that still “haunts him and his family,” family attorney Nathan Morris said in a statement. statement Tuesday announcing the deal.
Cameron’s family agreed to the settlement to avoid further emotional trauma that would have occurred for years waiting for the lawsuit to go to trial, Morris said. A separate investigation by prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges will be brought against the officer is ongoing and could have delayed the family’s lawsuit even further, she said.
The boy’s mother, Golda Barton, told him that her son has autism and that she had called the police because she was having a crisis and needed an intervention team.
“There are mixed emotions in the family,” Morris said. “It is a great relief to be done with this case, but at the same time we would like to take this case forward to shed light on some of the issues.”
After the shooting, Salt Lake City began training police, fire and dispatch officers on how to better engage with people who have sensory needs like Cameron. That training will continue, said Andrew Wittenberg, a spokesman for Salt Lake City.
The $3 million settlement amount, which will go to Cameron’s parents, Golda Barton and Michael Cameron, revealed a copy of the settlement agreement provided by Wittenberg.
“While the settlement is not an admission of liability, the parties agree that the shooting was a tragedy,” Wittenberg said in a statement. “The settlement represents combined efforts to reach a compromise that will resolve this case outside of formal litigation and provide the minor with resources for lifelong and long-term care.”
The Salt Lake City officers who responded were not crisis intervention specialists. Police said at the time that they had some mental health training, but ended up shooting the boy as he fled because they believed he had made threats with a gun.
The boy’s mother, Golda Barton, told him that her son has autism and that she had called the police because he was having a crisis.
No weapon was found and the family has always insisted that Linden Cameron was unarmed.
“This tragic shooting should not have happened,” the family said in the statement. “The officer acted recklessly prior to the time of the shooting. They knew that Linden was experiencing a mental health crisis and they knew that she would run from the officers; however, those officers chased him down and shot him.”
Morris said the money will be used to provide care for Linden Cameron, who still has significant physical injuries and ongoing mental health needs. She still has bullets lodged in her body and nerve problems in her feet and arms, she said.
“It’s going to be a long way for him to fully recover, if he ever does,” Morris said. “He is a strong boy, though. He is a wonderful boy, we are proud of him.”