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Racial harassment alleged during
arrest of young autistic man

June 22nd, 2010 · 20 Comments · Serious overreach

The disturbing case of Reginald Cornelius Latson, the autistic young man arrested in Virginia last month, has taken a more disturbing turn. His mother, Lisa Alexander, told an internet-based radio audience Sunday night that Stafford County deputies used racist slurs against her son when they stopped and arrested him May 24.

Reginald, whom his family calls Neli, is diagnosed with Asperger’s. He described the events of May 24 to his mother, who took notes, during her visit to the Western State Hospital in Staunton, VA. Neli was sent to the facility by a judge for a psychiatric evaluation and treatment, after 11 days in an isolated jail cell following his arrest.

Neli was the subject of a manhunt after a caller reportedly told police that a subject who “possibly has a gun” was sitting in front of a library. Police also responded by locking down eight area schools.

Neli said he was first approached by a Stafford County sheriff deputy behind a high school, and was searched without incident. After no weapon was found, Neli told his mother, this is what the deputy said:

“How is your mom? Did she find her baby daddy yet?  Don’t worry champ, keep hope alive (pumps fist in air), bet your grandma still hasn’t found her baby daddy yet.  What is she, 100 years old? Maybe she should call Tyrone and find out. Maybe you should go on Maurey and find out who your daddy is. Your dad is probably sitting on the corner at the liquor store drinking. I have a dream that one day all the little black boys and little black girls will know who their father is. I have a dream that one day all black fathers will stop running out on their whores to go rob a bank. I bet you all are glad that Barack Obama is President now. You get to get free fried chicken. You can rob a bank and get away with it. Maybe now dog fighting will not be illegal. He should have went to jail longer.

“Barack Obama is going to turn the White House into a strip club and call it the nigger house. He’s going to paint the White House black and put strippers on top of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a black bitch every now and then. But that’s not what the White House is about. Oh, I forget, it’s called the nigger house. How’s a baboon going to know how to run the White House? That’s why it’s called the White House, not the baboon house. Boy, I remember the good old days when we were cracking the whips on your backs.”

The deputy then asked the young man to identify himself. Neli responded “I don’t have to tell you my name. You’re a racist, I know my rights, and you’re harassing me.” Then he turned and walked away. The deputy, according to Neli, grabbed him from behind and choked him. A scuffle ensued during which Neli was tased and pepper sprayed. Police said Neli took the pepper spray from the deputy and sprayed him with it. The deputy reportedly broke his ankle during the altercation for which he required surgery.

According to the official Stafford County Sheriff Department version of the incident, Neli escaped and evaded capture for 45 minutes. He was spotted shortly before 10 am near the same high school. Neli said that when he was arrested, he was thrown to the ground and kicked. He said “I didn’t do anything wrong!” The officers responded “You don’t have to do anything wrong. Welcome to Stafford County.”

Neli told his mother that after he was handcuffed, the police spit in his face and called him a nigger. One said to him “I will blow your fucking head off, nigger.”

As Neli sat handcuffed in the squad car, the deputies allegedly taunted him further: “Nigger’s going to jail. Nigger’s going to jail. Oh yeah, you can make a Snoop Dog rap song about that.”

Neli said the deputies manhandled him as they were putting him in the squad car. They bent his neck, and tried to slam the car door on his ankle. More taunting occurred during the ride to the station house, where he was interrogated. During the questioning, investigators tried to coerce Neli into admitting he had a gun. Neli made no such admission, and no gun has been found.

The Stafford County Sheriff Department has not returned emails or phone calls for this story.

In another strange twist, Neli’s mother says two deputies appeared at her door last last night who said they had an arrest warrant for her son. “I told them that Neli was already in custody. They just stood there, then asked to come in. I refused.” She said the deputies never produced a warrant, and left without incident.

Lisa Alexander says her son has an exceptional recall of events, and it is unlikely he could have fabricated his version of the arrest.

Neli faces one count of malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer, one count of assault and battery of a law enforcement officer, and one count of knowingly disarming a police officer in performance of his official duties. He is scheduled to be released from a state mental hospital in two weeks, and returned to police custody.

Porter Library, where Reginald Latson was reportedly sitting in the grass on the morning of May 24. A 911 caller allegedly told police the young man was “possibly in possession of a gun”. No gun has been found, and it is unclear whether the caller claimed to have seen one. The call triggered a lock down of eight area schools, and a manhunt. by sheriff deputies.


20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Anne // Jun 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    From publicly available documents on the Stafford County Court’s website, it appears that there are two arrest warrants out for Neli. He was indicted by a grand jury on June 7, 2010, for a statutory burglary in November 2009 and a domestic assault and battery in January 2010, and arrest warrants were issued. His status is shown as “fugitive,” although it seems he has been in the mental hospital since the indictments. Obviously this kid is in very serious trouble.

  • 2 Lisa Alexander // Jun 22, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I suggest that Stafford county police get their records in order. This information that is public information that you are reporting are completely FALSE… Of course this seems to be in alignment with standard operating procedures for the department, since they showed up at my door at 9:30 PM last night looking for my son, who they have incarcerated for the past month. I wonder why they wanted me to let them in?

    Harassment much?

  • 3 Tweets that mention Racial harassment alleged duringarrest of young autistic man -- // Jun 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lisa Alexander , Liz Ditz. Liz Ditz said: Racial harrassment in the course of the arrest of a young man with autism (story updated) […]

  • 4 arthur g kerr II // Jun 22, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    virginia pd , specifically stafford county needs to stop with all the bs….they are losing and they know it…..looks like a big lawsuit to me!!! let them keep fabricating lies and manufacturing stories and lets see whats gonna happen….

  • 5 Camille // Jun 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Riddle me this? If this young man is a burglar in 09 and assailant in January 2010 and is constantly “a purp” then why wasn’t he already in jail? Am I to believe that he had all these warrants out for his arrest, but apparently the police never bothered to serve him. Those poor poor police didn’t know where he lived. All that technology at their finger tips and they couldn’t find this determent to society. Let me draft an apology letter to The Stafford Co Police now….Sarcasm!

    So, if I’m suppose to believe all this then they sound like darn fools! Because they are now trying to spin a story and cast a shadow on a young man with special needs.

    What next? An interview with his kindergarten teacher where she alleges he stole graham crackers.

  • 6 Anne // Jun 22, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Heads up, Lisa, you should check on the two pending cases, because there could be more accusations that will be thrown at your son than you know about. It could be harassment, yes, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to assume it isn’t happening.

    Here’s a link to the court’s online info … just choose Stafford County Circuit and do a name search.

  • 7 Anne // Jun 22, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Camille, no, there were no warrants issued until he was already in custody. Why they decided to suddenly charge him with these other crimes, and then declare him a “fugitive” when they had him in custody … that’s what Lisa and Neli are going to have to figure out. Or their attorney will, anyway.

  • 8 Camille // Jun 22, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    It’s been my experience that felony charges do not go unnoticed and that if he’d had a record the police would have left a calling card long ago.

    Let’s say this stuff is true, why in the world would he or anyone else like him be allowed to roam the streets? I mean given this logic you’d thing Andy, Barney, and Aunt Bea were running the Police Office. With special appearance by Otis the drunk.

    They are losing their credibility with this Spielberg-ish tale.

  • 9 R.S // Jun 22, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Stafford County Police Dept. will have a lot of explaining to do. I swear this is straight out of a freaking movie. unbelievable!

  • 10 Cops to black autistic man, “I will blow your fucking head off, nigger” « Modestlyproposed Thoughts… // Jun 22, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    […] Cops to black autistic man, “I will blow your fucking head off, nigger” […]

  • 11 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. // Jun 22, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Makes Kafka look … straight-forward, doesn’t it?

  • 12 Phil Schwarz // Jun 23, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I think the racial taunting may have been an intentional effort on the part of the police to get Neli to overreact — once it became clear to them that they had a socially naive and potentially labile kid on their hands — so that they’d have charges they could make stick, and deflect scrutiny away from their own questionable activity.
    Bullies who take advantage of people on the spectrum do that sort of thing all the time.
    Lisa, have you contacted Dennis Debbaudt? He may be in a unique position to help sort things out.

  • 13 Ballastexistenz » Post Topic » Regarding Neli Latson // Jun 23, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    […] […]

  • 14 Ylanne S. // Jun 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Dennis Debbaudt is involved in autism training for law enforcement, and makes regular speaking engagements internationally, as both a law enforcement professional and the father of an autistic young man.

    Lisa, I will be praying for your family. Let me know if there is anything I can do to ameliorate the situation. This is terrible and tragic that it was ever allowed to happen.

  • 15 Zach // Jun 25, 2010 at 3:15 am

    I’ve wrote my conclusion on this whole drama here…. I don’t believe the mother one bit and now that her sons criminal history is public I don’t believe her even more.

    I’ve looked into his criminal history – you can read more at

  • 16 Chris // Jun 25, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Zach: did you read what Anne wrote above?

    Camille, no, there were no warrants issued until he was already in custody. Why they decided to suddenly charge him with these other crimes, and then declare him a “fugitive” when they had him in custody …

    He is still in custody, and he was in custody when those warrants were issued. It does not look good for a department to not find someone they have in custody!

  • 17 me // Jun 30, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Is this lady ever gonna get her child a LAWYER. She keeps talking about national media exposure. GEt your son a good lawyer please.

  • 18 gulpilil // Mar 9, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Lisa, I am still praying for you and your son Neli. Hang in there girl.

  • 19 Chris // Mar 13, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Article about Neli in the Washington Post.

  • 20 Net // Sep 29, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I am deeply deeply sadden by this, but than again I am not shocked at all by the police. This is becoming a police state…

    I dont feel sorry for the police at all and I do feel that this could have been prevented. My father is a police officer so dont try to throw codes or rules and regulations at me. In MY OPINION this was handled wrong.

    How the same judge in Stafford ALLOW a woman who killed someone 8 months in jail???

    They also handcuffed a boy, put him in the back of a police car in and the school suspended him for I think two weeks from school for running in a banana suit during a football game ???

    Stafford needs to get it together because their system is jacked.

    My prayers are with you…keep fighting because I am fighting right with you!

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