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Deputies use Taser to subdue autistic O.C. boy who was running in traffic

September 19, 2007|Jennifer Delson | Times Staff Writer

Orange County sheriff's deputies on Tuesday defended their decision to use a stun gun on a 15-year-old autistic boy who ran away from his parents and later dashed into traffic.

Using the Taser in this case "was the right thing to do," said Jim Amormino, a sheriff's spokesman. "If that were your son, would you want him Tased or hit by a car? The deputy made the right decision. . . . It could have saved [the boy's] life."

But Doris Karras, mother of Taylor Karras, said deputies did not need to use the Taser gun, particularly because she had called various police agencies to alert them that her son was missing. She said her son would have followed deputies' directions if he hadn't felt threatened.

"This was a very aggressive response," she said. She said her son "didn't have any weapon on him. He didn't even have a pencil."

Taylor fled during a visit to the Regional Center of Orange County in Westminster about 11:30 a.m. Monday. The family had gone there for counseling, which the boy did not want.

About nine hours later, his mother saw him about one block from their home -- 16 miles from the center -- on the ground and handcuffed by deputies.

Amormino said Tustin police called the Sheriff's Department after a pedestrian reported a suspicious person. Taylor was pushing a shopping cart down Newport Avenue near La Loma Drive, near his home in North Tustin. With no money, he apparently had walked home.

Doris Karras said her son, who is 5 feet 10 and has a beard, looks older than 15.

Amormino said Taylor yelled something when approached by a deputy, then ran across Newport Avenue, causing two cars to swerve. It was then that a deputy shot him with a Taser gun.

The deputy handcuffed the youth to keep him out of traffic, Amormino said.

Taser guns use compressed nitrogen to propel two darts that attach to the body. The darts are connected to the gun by a wire and deliver a 50,000-volt shock at five-second intervals to incapacitate a suspect.

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jennifer.delson@latimes.com

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