Name: Stephon Watts
Died: February 1, 2012
Age at death: 15
Cause of death: Shooting
Location: Calumet City, Illinois, USA
He had taught himself to read, and was skilled at fixing computers. At 15, Stephon Watts liked to watch YouTube videos and read Dr. Seuss books. He wanted to have a career programming video games. His family called him "Baby" and would get him to behave by rewarding him with pomegranates, his favorite fruit.
Stephon attended church, even though the sound of church services triggered his sensory issues. When he was fourteen, he was baptized. His pastor described him as a boy who "was shy and quiet, but showed great love for those he trusted."
Stephon had ADHD and Asperger's, and social workers advised his parents that he should be "handled" by the authorities. Stephon's parents had called the police to subdue their son at least ten times, at least one of which involved a taser.
On the day of his death, police cornered Stephon, who was holding a knife, in the basement. Stephon tried to run, but they blocked him. When they saw the knife, they shot him, and he fell to the floor. As he lay there, they shot him again. Stephon died.
The officers who shot Stephon described it as a nine-inch steak knife, but his parents say he was actually holding a butter knife, with which he had been opening the locked door of a room where his father had hidden his computer as a punishment. They claim that Stephon had superficially cut one of the officers, but neither of them was able to even find the cut until they were back at the police station.
"They're trained to disarm people," Stephon's father said. "Why did they have to use deadly force on a 15-year-old autistic kid?"
The officers who shot Stephon were initially put on administrative leave, but then cleared of all wrongdoing in the boy's death.
Why was Stephon Watts killed?
Stephon Watts, Autistic Teen, Fatally Shot By Police In His Home (VIDEO)
Teen with autism shot to death by police
Officers Cleared in Death of Autistic Teen
Family Furious After Calumet City Police Shoot, Kill Boy With Autism
Black, autistic, and killed by police
Court rules in favor of Cal City cops in fatal shooting of autistic teen
Autistic boy shot by Calumet City police remembered