Man punches teen with autism and police rule it self-defence, family shocked
VANCOUVER -- A Surrey family is horrified their 13-year-old son, who is on the autism spectrum, was punched in the face by a middle-aged man and police are not pursuing the case further.
It happened last Monday morning at the food court at Central City Shopping Centre in Surrey, B.C.
The boy’s mother is outraged.
“A 200-pound adult punched my kid, who is barely 70 pounds,” said Yanyan Yao.
Howie, her son, and his behaviour interventionist, Cindy Ginther, were waiting for their food when a man, who looked to be in his 40s, approached them.
Howie had been learning about physical distancing, his family said, and he was flapping his arms as a way to tell the stranger not to stand too close.
“A man walked by within inches of Howie who can't really communicate verbally -- he has very limited verbal language -- and Howie hit the man right in the chest, as if to say, ‘You're too close to me.’ The man then turned around and punched Howie in the right cheek,” explained Ginther.
Yao said she’s shocked by the RCMP investigation.
She said Mounties reviewed surveillance footage which showed Howie making physical contact with the man first, leading them to conclude that the man acted in self-defence.
“Whatever the judgment from the cop is totally wrong. I just feel like they don't really consider that he's a special needs kid,” Yao said.
Ginther said she was never interviewed about what happened and believes the RCMP did not conduct an appropriate investigation.
“You could clearly see he has a disability … it's absolutely ridiculous to me. I think it's assault,” she said. “How can you say an adult hitting a special needs kid is self-defence? I don't understand that.”
In an email response to CTV News, the Surrey RCMP said no charges will be laid.
“Surrey RCMP did investigate this allegation which included the review of surveillance footage and it was determined that no offence was committed by either party,” said spokesperson Cpl. Joanie Sidhu.
Yao has started an online petition in hopes of spreading awareness and advocating that the RCMP launch a hate crime investigation.
There was some swelling on Howie’s cheek where he was hit but it has since gone down, Yao said. But, the emotional trauma remains.
“When I take him out, he will be more quiet, kind of you know, scared of the people around, so he’s always holding my hand pretty tight,” Yao said.
She is also hoping the man who hit her son gives them a sincere apology.