Autism

This Teen with Autism Was Attacked While Running in Cross-Country Race

teen with autism

Earlier this month, 15-year-old Chase Coleman hung up his track jersey and called it quits. The teen, who attends Corcoran High School in Syracuse, New York, was apparently shoved to the ground in Rochester while he was running a cross-country race on October 14.

For Coleman, who is a freshmen in high school, this is especially devastating as he has autism and is nonverbal. So, what exactly happened? A man driving behind him stopped, got out of his car, and confronted Coleman. His parents said two witnesses saw the incident and stopped the confrontation from getting worse.

Coleman’s mother, Clarise Coleman, spoke to News 8’s Jordan Guerrein on the phone this past Sunday:

“It’s heartbreaking…it’s heartbreaking. It really is. Both witnesses saw him get pushed to the ground, and one witness saw the gentleman hovering over him about to hit him and he yelled out.”

Thankfully, the witnesses took the attacker’s license plate down, and he was later found by police. Coleman’s family is pressing charges of 2nd Degree Harassment. However, somehow, a Rochester City Court Judge denied issuing an arrest warrant–which is unbelievable. As of now, a Syracuse City Councilor is helping the parents.

The attacker, who is white, admitted to pushing Coleman, claiming a young black man had recently broken into his car and he thought Coleman was going to steal his car–according to the original report.

In a letter to the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office dated October 25, Councilor Boyle stated:

“For all of this progress to be lost due to a racist, aggressive, unprovoked attack on a disabled African-American minor with absolutely no consequences is for lack of a stronger word, unacceptable.”

Not surprisingly, Coleman no longer competes or even practices with his team, as he was so rattled by what happened. His mother explained how the attack completely took all of the joy out of running for her son:

“That all got snatched away in…I can’t even tell you how many seconds it was…but when I brought my son to Rochester, he had that joy, and when we left Rochester, it was gone.”

On Monday, the Monroe County District Attorney, Sandra Doorley, released the following statement regarding the incident:

“The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office takes all our prosecution cases seriously and works diligently to prosecute all cases within the boundaries of the law. With respect to the alleged incident that occurred at Cobbs Hill Park in the City of Rochester on Friday, October 14, 2016, at this time there has been no arrest. As with every case of an individual who is arrested in Monroe County, we will begin our prosecution of this case upon arrest. Until such time, the investigation of this case is being conducted by the Rochester Police Department and will be reviewed by a City Court Judge to determine whether an arrest will be made. In the meantime, we ask for your patience and understanding in knowing that we are obligated, as are the police, to follow the processes and procedures established by the law.”

We hope Chase and his family are coping with the terrible trauma that has ensued because of this incident. This is not OK–and behavior like this shouldn’t be tolerated.


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Joanna Valente

Joanna Valente is the Editorial Assistant at Kveller. She is the author of Sirs & Madams The Gods Are Dead, and Marys of the Sea (forthcoming), and received her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. You can follow her @joannasaid on Twitter, @joannacvalente on Instagram, or email her at joanna@kveller.com.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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