An autistic 15 year-old from Harlem was detained by the NYPD after telling a teacher he identified with the murderous main character from the 1989 dark comedy Heathers.
Terrance O’Connor, 15, was asked to pick a movie to discuss in class last year and chose the cult classic 80s movie after watching it on his iPad. He later told his teacher that he identified with the homicidal J.D., played by Christian Slater.
O’Connor’s identification with J.D. led to the teacher reporting him to school administrators, who went on to alert security at PS 72/The Lexington Academy on East 104th Street in Harlem. Security went on to recommend contacting the NYPD.
The school failed to tell the police that Terrance was autistic and in a special education setting, according to his dad, David O’Connor, 45.
According to a complaint filed against the city, the Department of Education, the NYPD, and others, the police said they were putting Terrance under arrest for ‘homicidal ideation and a potential terrorist threat.’
Over half a dozen officers showed up at the O’Connor’s door, taking the 15-year-old to the 23rd Precinct for questioning, according to court documents.
His dad told theNew York Post, ‘if you see this kid, he will not hurt a bug. He is the sweetest kid in the world. They never notified the police that my son was a special needs student. I wasn’t even allowed to say goodbye to my son.’ He added that the police ‘kept him, no attorney, no nothing they were back there talking to him.’
After being questioned by the police, he was sent to Metropolitan Hospital for a mental evaluation.
The family lawyer, Migir Ilganayev said Terrance was ‘gravely failed by the very institutions which should have protected him.’
His dad shared the damaging effect the experience had on his son, saying it ‘really screwed him up.’ Blaming other’s ‘mistakes and poor judgement’ for the traumatic experience. Now Terrance won’t ‘leave the house… he thinks the cops… are watching him. So he isolates himself.’
The family is seeking unspecified damages.
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