Mother of arrested autistic teen welcomes officers' apologies
The mother of an autistic man who spent a night in a cell after Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers assumed he was intoxicated says she is satisfied with their apology.
The two arresting officers apologized in person Friday to Dane Spurrell, whom they arrested on Topsail Road on April 18 after they mistook his walk, behaviour and answers to their questions as symptoms of drunkenness.
Spurrell, 18, a Mount Pearl resident, was taken to the lockup in downtown St. John's, where guards refused to let him call his mother. RNC Chief Joe Browne apologized on behalf of the force on Thursday.
Diane Spurrell, Dane Spurrell's mother, said the officers' visit and apology mean a lot.
"It does, because it tells me that they're not on a power trip," she said. "They're not brutal people. They're human beings and they made a mistake in judgment."
The Spurrells were told the officers will soon take part in RNC training that will teach them about autism and they told Spurrell's mother they would like to create a relationship with her son to help him get over the incident. As for Dane, it might take more time before he forgives and forgets.
"After they left, I felt OK, but while they were there, I just didn't like them," he said.
Meanwhile, Graham Rogerson, the superintendent of prisons, also visited the Spurrells to offer his own apology for how things were handled at the lockup.
Spurrell was not released from custody until his mother contacted authorities, frantic that she could not find him near their Mount Pearl home.
Diane Spurrell told CBC News that the Department of Justice is reviewing a draft proposal that might allow an arrested person to phone home, in certain situations.
Policy currently dictates that anyone brought to the lockup may only call a lawyer.