Parents of autistic teenager shot 11 times by SLC police file lawsuit in federal court

(Screenshot via Salt Lake City Police Department/YouTube) A screengrab from body camera footage shows the interaction between police and Linden Cameron, a 13-year-old boy with autism, on Sept. 4, 2020. Linden was shot multiple times after police were called to a home near 500 South and Navajo Street to help with what officials have called a “violent psych issue.” Linden's parents are suing Salt Lake City Police Department and the officer who allegedly shot him.

The parents of a 13-year-old boy with autism have filed a federal lawsuit against the Salt Lake City Police Department and the officer believed to have shot and injured the teen.

On Sept. 4, Linden Cameron’s mother, Golda Barton, called police for help while her son was having a mental health episode. The responding officers opened fire on the unarmed teenager instead, severely injuring him. Linden’s family has sought justice in the months since, and his story has rallied groups seeking police reform in Utah.

A complaint filed in Utah District Court on Monday alleges police shot Linden 11 times.

The civil lawsuit also claims the responding officers should have known Linden had mental health issues because Barton had told dispatchers about his autism and that he needed a “mental health worker, because he’s sick.” At least four officers responded, according to the complaint, which “were not trained as mental health workers” and “were not trained as crisis intervention team officers.” At least one officer allegedly acknowledged Linden has a “sensory disorder.”

Barton said she informed officers that her son was afraid of police officers and would flee from them, according to the complaint.

“If this is a psych issue, I don’t see why we should even approach,” one officer said, according to the document.

“Especially when he hates cops, it’s going to end in a shooting,” another officer allegedly said.

Instead, according to the complaint, the officers approached Linden’s home with their guns drawn. The teenager ran away down an alley, and the police chased him. The document alleges that the officers should have known Linden was unarmed because his hands were empty and he did not attempt to threaten them.

The complaint claims the 11 shots that struck the boy, all allegedly from the same officer, implied an intent to “shoot to kill.” The lawsuit identifies the shooter as “Officer Farias,” but notes that the employee’s first name is unknown.

After the shooting, Linden suffered from permanent left arm paralysis, disfigurement, ankle injuries, internal organ damage and “severe emotional and mental anguish,” according to the document. Several bullets remain in the teen’s body.

Attorneys for Linden and Barton further claim the Salt Lake City police officers did not use less-lethal options at their disposal, including Tasers, and that they deliberately tampered with the sound on their body cameras.

The court filing also alleges that the officers did not “receive adequate de-escalation” training. It specifically notes a list of police reforms brought by Mayor Erin Mendenhall on Aug. 3, a month before Linden‘s shooting, which called for stricter de-escalation training and stiffer requirements for body cameras.

Linden’s father, Michael Cameron, is also listed as a plaintiff. The family is seeking a jury trial in the case.

In a statement Tuesday, Salt Lake City Police said they had not been served with the lawsuit. The department said it would not comment on the suit because of “pending litigation and an open investigation.”