Parents Of Autistic Teen Who Died After Police Sat On Him For 9 Minutes Sue Officers
The parents of a teen who was reportedly sat on for nine minutes by police are suing the sheriff and serval officers.
Eric Parsa, an autistic 16-year-old, died after allegedly being pinned down by law enforcement on January 19, 2020.
The teenager had gone to a shopping centre in Louisiana with his parents Donna Lou and Daren. Upon leaving, Eric had a sudden sensory outburst, often referred to as a ‘meltdown’ in the car park.
During the incident, Eric began hitting himself and his father, which led to a manager of the shopping centre calling the police, with the family’s permission.
Once police arrived at the scene, Eric was handcuffed and held down by two officers who reportedly took turns to put their weight on the teenager for nine minutes and six seconds. According to the lawsuit filed on Thursday, January 14, Eric did not resist the officers after being restrained.
Eric went limp while being held down, and was rushed to a nearby hospital where he went into cardiac arrest. Sadly, the teenager later died as a result of ‘excited delirium’; a Jefferson Parish coroner said this was ‘due to an acute psychotic episode in the setting of severe autistic spectrum disorder and disruptive behavior disorder,’ Metro reports. According to CBS News, ‘excited delirium’ was mentioned in the charging documents related to the deaths of George Floyd and Elijah McClain, and is a phrase used by police and paramedics to describe ‘a life-threatening syndrome among suspects exhibiting wild behaviour and extreme strength’.
In addition to ‘excited delirium’, the coroner said Eric’s weight, enlarged heart, and ‘prone positioning’ were contributing factors to his death.
Almost a year on from his death, Eric’s parents want justice for the loss of their teenage son.
William Most, one of the family’s attorneys, told VICE:
Once Eric was secured, the deputies should have taken basic steps to ensure he could continue to breathe, including taking the weight off his back side, rolling him onto his side, and assigning someone to monitor his breathing.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said the lawsuit was ‘rife with false claims and malicious accusations,’ and described Eric as a ‘violent teenager’.
In a statement, the police said, ‘While the Sheriff’s Office remains deeply saddened over this unfortunate loss of life, it does not intend to allow Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputies to be maligned and slandered by those seeking to profit from this unfortunate situation.’
The Parsa’s lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages, as well as naming the sheriff for Jefferson Parish, several deputies, the shopping centre, and looks to name the unidentified insurance providers for the sheriff and the shopping centre.
It also claims that Eric’s constitutional rights and his civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.