Lawsuit filed against Dolton, Riverdale, officers after Taser used on boy with autism

Samantha Chatman Image
Friday, February 16, 2024
Lawsuit filed after Taser used on boy with autism
A lawsuit has been filed against the village of Dolton, Riverdale and police on behalf of Avarius Thompson, the boy Leslie Johnson used a Taser on.

DOLTON, Ill. (WLS) -- Attorneys for 14-year-old Avarius Thompson have filed a lawsuit against the village of Dolton, the village of Riverdale and several police officers.

The lawsuit comes after former Dolton police Officer Leslie Johnson used a Taser on Thompson, who has autism, last year. The incident was caught on bodycam video and garnered national attention.

A Dolton police officer was caught on camera using a Taser on Avarius Thompson, who has autism, in a case of mistaken identity, his attorney said.

The complaint states that Dolton and Riverdale police were investigating an incident, which was unrelated to Thompson, when they wrongfully pursued the 14-year-old boy on his own property in a "menacing and threatening manner."

The suit claims the officers violently engaged Thompson and used a Taser on his back.

READ MORE: Dolton officer uses Taser on boy with autism in case of mistaken identity, attorney says

According to the complaint, Thompson was then unlawfully arrested and imprisoned by officers, and suffered a fractured hip and emotional distress, resulting from "unlawful confinement and custodial tactics."

The lawsuit also claims that the village of Dolton failed to adequately train officers on the use of Tasers.

In a statement to the I-Team, attorneys Jarrett Adams and Brandon Brown, who represent Thompson and his parents, said "It is clear from the police bodycam audio, and even to the officers on the scene, that they shot and tased the wrong person. Instead of attempting to rectify the situation by calling EMT and releasing Avarius, this 14-year-old juvenile was hauled off to jail where he sat in a cell for eight hours being questioned by police while they denied access to his parents. It is not enough to simply fire the officer. The Village of Dolton, Riverdale, and its mayors need to settle the claims in the complaint and address the serious concerns regarding the failure in effective training."

SEE ALSO: Former Dolton police officer who used Taser on teen with autism disputes firing

Johnson, who fired the Taser, was fired from the Dolton Police Department last week, following the November 2023 incident.

Johnson admitted that this was a case of mistaken identity, and said he felt terrible about the incident, but maintains he should not have been fired from the department.

In response to the lawsuit, Johnson said "This is terrible that we are being persecuted by hindsight bias. To imply that any conduct was willful wanton or intentional without all of the facts surrounding the circumstance has also repeatedly placed officers owing a duty to the public, in positions where they are ridiculed and subject to the verdicts of public opinion rather than law. We as parents, and as a society in whole have to provide better care for each other, especially our friends and families with disabilities so that we can see effective results when it comes to situations such as this. I have a genuine love for all that I encounter and am appalled by the idea of others believing I would actually want or intentionally hurt someone."

The I-Team has reached out to the village of Dolton, the village of Riverdale and the other officers listed in the lawsuit. The did not immediately respond.