Police to review tasering of Mississauga teen with autism

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Published November 23, 2022 at 2:58 pm

Peel Regional Police say they will conduct a review into the tasering of teen Abdullah Darwich earlier this month.

On Nov. 4, Abdullah Darwich, 19, who has autism and is nonverbal, was tasered by police after they received a report of “a suspicious person in a state of undress, attempting to enter a vehicle and a house.”

He was left with six possible Taser injuries in addition to cuts and bruises all over his body. He was also traumatized by the encounter.

Autism advocates called for more police training in the wake of the news.

Today (Nov. 23), Peel Regional Police released a public statement saying they recognized the “severe impact” the incident had on the teen, his family and the entire community.

Last week, senior police members met with Abdullah’s father, Majd Darwich, to discuss the incident.

“A review is being conducted and the totality of the circumstances are being examined,” the statement reads. “We have also advised Mr. Darwich that he can file a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) to have an independent review completed.”

The statement goes on to say police are increasingly called to situations involving people with complex health and social needs and it’s important for officers to have “the tools, knowledge and resources to respond appropriately.”

After the tasering of Abdullah, Peel Police are evaluating how they identify and constructively engage with people with autism.

“Upholding the human rights of those we serve and ensuring the safety and well-being of all community members is the most important priority of our Service,” the statement continues.

The police are consulting with experts to strengthen training.

“This will build on a number of existing partnerships and initiatives to support priority populations including a Divisional Mobilization Unit that connects people with immediate resources to improve their quality of life and reduce unnecessary police interactions,” the statement reads.

Abdullah was on the Vulnerable Persons Registry but police did not identify this fact before tasering him. They now say they will work on access to information through the registry and innovative approaches to alert officers of the specific needs an individual may have.

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