"Persons with autism and mental illness often live daily with high levels of anxiety. What Linden needed was patience and compassion. The ability of a person already anxious or experiencing a mental health episode to process actions and words of others will be delayed even more than usual," she added.
A person with autism spectrum disorders is likely to have difficulties during encounters with police, experts say, because some behaviors typical in persons with autism, such as avoiding eye contact or moving hands rapidly, can be interpreted as a threat if police lack specific training or experience related to autism. Those with mental health problems also have disproportionately challenging interactions with police, as their actions can be perceived as belligerent or threatening.
Barton pointed out in an interview early this month that when police approached her son, he was walking, within reach of them, and smaller than them.
"He's a small child. Why didn't you just tackle him?" Barton asked police during an interview with KUTV News. "He's a baby. He has mental issues."
"Linden Cameron is a creation of the Creator; made in God's image. We must continue to educate and advocate for individuals with greater needs with haste," Katra added.
Police officers have not commented on the shooting, because it is now under investigation.
In a Sept. 9 statement, the Salt Lake City diocese told CNA: "We offer our prayers for Linden Cameron and his family. Whatever the results of the ongoing investigations, we are heartbroken to see a child caught in our culture of gun violence."
In its statement, the Salt Lake City diocese said it "supports and encourages continued discussions with law enforcement about the use of force and legislative action to ensure that the dignity and sanctity of all life is protected throughout our criminal justice system."
The National Catholic Partnership on Disability says it is the "voice of the U.S. Catholic Bishops" on disabilities, and was founded to implement the U.S. bishops' conference's 1978 pastoral statement on the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the Catholic Church. The organization is affiliated with the U.S. bishops' conference.
J.D.Flynn served as Catholic News Agency's editor-in-chief from August 2017 to December 2020.