Michael Camberdella

Photo of Michael Camberdella. He is a young man with brown hair and fair skin, wearing a blue collared shirt.Name: Michael Camberdella
Died: October 4, 2012
Age at death: 18
Cause of death: Police Shooting
Location: Boynton Beach, Florida, USA

Michael lived with his family. In addition to autism, he had Tourette’s, ADHD, and bipolar disorder, and he had recently had his medication changed. Michael had meltdowns that were so severe that on two previous occasions, the family had called the police to help. Both times, they had talked Michael down successfully, preventing injury to anyone. Michael often used music to help moderate his emotions.

On the day of his death, Michael had a meltdown and threatened his mother, who called the police, warning them not to approach her son because he would hit an officer who approached. Somewhere between Michael’s mother, the dispatcher, and the deputy sent out on the call, the situation was reported as more dangerous than the others: Michael had his mother in a choke hold; he was threatening her with a rubber mallet; he was armed with hedge clippers.

By the time the deputy arrived, Michael had calmed himself down and gone outside.

What happened then is still under dispute. The deputy says that Michael was holding both the rubber mallet and the hedge clippers, and that he was throwing bits of stone at the deputy. He says he shot Michael when Michael did not respond to his commands to drop the clippers and get on the ground, and instead came at him with the clippers. He fired eleven shots, killing Michael.

However, a neighbor reports that she did not see any weapons in Michael’s hands, that the deputy fired at Michael while he stood still, apparently confused. The hammer and hedge clippers were, she reports, at least twenty feet away at the time.

The deputy, who had a Taser but chose not to use it because he believed Tasers are “limited in capacity”, has not been disciplined for Michael’s death.

However, Michael’s mother sued the sheriff’s department and won an undisclosed settlement.

Editor’s note: I tend to believe the family here; how is an autistic person in the middle of a meltdown supposed to hold on to a hammer and hedge clippers while simultaneously throwing rocks? By his history, Michael was always able to control himself before his meltdowns hurt anyone. Even the rocks are described as “lava rocks”–light pumice stones that cannot hurt anyone even if thrown with great force. Supposedly trained in addressing mental health crises, the deputy panicked and shot a young man who presented at most a minimal threat.

Teen’s death by cop illustrates failure of mental health system
Witness in deputy-involved shooting speaks, claims PBSO deputy shot unarmed man
Michael Camberdella Shooting: Family disputes PBSO investigation, hires team of lawyers
Mother of Michael Camberdella seeks justice for son
Slain autistic teen’s parents sue sheriff’s office
Family says teen shot by deputy was unarmed
Attorney: Boynton-area teen shot by deputy was ‘not a threat’
Sheriff says using a taser on charging teen wasn’t an option for deputy
Family of autistic teen slain by deputy file wrongful death suit against Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office
Federal appeals court won’t toss wrongful death lawsuit against PBSO deputy
Settlement reached in deputy shooting of autistic teen
Another witness (now 3) claim autistic FL man shot by deputy was empty handed
Family of autistic teen files wrongful death suit against sheriff’s office

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