Daren Parsa and Donna Lou have filed a lawsuit against the officers involved in the incident.
Trigger warning: The story contains details that may be distressing to some readers.
In a horrific turn of events, one couple was forced to see their child die in front of their eyes. According to The New York Times, Daren Parsa and Donna Lou witnessed the death of their 16-year-old autistic boy after seven uniformed officers took turns to sit on him for more than nine minutes.
On 19, January, 2020, the couple took their son to Metairie strip mall in Louisiana so he could play laser tag. Unfortunetly, Eric suffered an autism-related meltdown at the parking lot of the mall. Shortly, the teenager began slapping and biting Daren due to a sensory overload. An employee who watched the incident informed a sheriff’s office reserve deputy named Chad Pitfield. Pitfield who was providing security at the mall arrived along with other officers.
The police sat on a boy with autism for 9 minutes and he he died. They handcuffed Eric, shackled his feet and restrained him face down on the pavement, putting immense pressure on his back, according to the lawsuit.https://t.co/9PoyHrpzU2— Blue Girl Films (@BlueGirlCinema) January 15, 2021
Though they were informed that the teenager was autistic, the officers did not refrain from treating it as though it was "just business as usual."
After cuffing his hands and shackling his legs, the officers sat on the teenager one after another. Eric who was autistic and obese could not breathe as he was held facedown.
Eric's death left his parents in deep despair. "Not a day goes by where we don’t yearn for Eric and grieve the loss of his life and the future he would have had," said the heartbroken mother.
Over a year after the devastating incident, the couple has filed a case against the deputies. According to The Washington Post, the lawsuit stated that the officers were "sitting on, handcuffing, shackling, holding down, or standing by E.P. as he was restrained and held face down on his stomach against the hard surface of the parking lot."
The lawsuit pointed that one of the officers raised Eric's cuffed hands over his head and put him in a chokehold. It said, "there were several clear and distinct opportunities when E.P. was secured, was calm, was not actively resisting." However, the insensitive officers did not reduce the use of force.
Eventually, it led to the death of the innocent teenager. The deputies tried to resuscitate him with the help of CPR and prevented the mother from helping even after she claimed to be a doctor.
Shortly thereafter, Eric was taken to the hospital and his parents were told he was no more. "Never did we ever think that our 16-year-old son with special needs would die in front of our eyes at this age and in the hands of law enforcement. Unfortunately, it is our reality of a nightmare," said Donna. She added, "We bring this lawsuit in hopes that Eric’s death will not be in vain and no other families will have to go through the same horror, loss, and shock that we are experiencing."
The couple believes their son's death was caused due to the negligence and excessive force used by the officers. Additionally, they also violated Eric's civil rights and his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Meanwhile, the sheriff's office rejected the claims and called them false. The statement released said that the officers only "tried to control the violent teenager’s outbursts to prevent him from again attacking his parents and first responders."