Mother questions arrest of disabled son

Posted at 11:54 PM, Sep 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-18 00:54:49-04

A Muskogee mother questions officers' use of force after they arrest her mentally-challenged son.

The incident captured on police body cameras. It raises questions about the how law enforcement interacts with the mentally ill.

Searching for a runaway girl, Muskogee police went to the Clark household.

Inside, the person they were looking for hanging out with her friends, one of whom was Gio Clark.

Patted down by police, Gio was nervous, and got upset when they reached for his phone.

His movements quick, and officers slammed him to the ground, pepper spraying him.

He was arrested and taken to jail.

“He woke up the next morning rocking back and forth, I haven't seen him do that in years,” Gio’s mom Etta Clark said.

Clark says her son is mentally disabled.

“A simple pat down, that was all that was going to take place here, but unfortunately it escalated into something completely different,” Officer Lincoln Anderson explained.

Etta questions the officers use of force. 

“The whole thing is messed up.”

In the video you hear Gio’s mother scream, “He's mentally retarded.”

An officer responds, “Do you expect us to ask everybody we meet 'are you retarded?'"

Michael Brose with the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma says situations like these are common in rural communities.

“It's not really fair to our law enforcement people to go out and be first responders to these types of situations,” Brose said.

He says oftentimes officers are put in tough situations and in some cases, don't have extensive enough training.

It's not clear if that was the case here. 2 Works for You called Muskogee PD to learn more about these officers’ training records, but the call has not been returned.

Muskogee police do say however, in the heat of the moment it's not always easy to identify mental illness.

“A lot of times, a disability can look like somebody is under the influence of something.”

Etta believes it boils down to basic understanding.

“Neither one of them were being decent they didn't even try.”

She believes the system needs a major overhaul.

“I know something has to be done, and something will be done.”