Danielle Jacobs, a 24-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome, was fatally shot by police in Arizona, according to reports
Mesa police went to the home of Jacobs, who appeared in a viral video last year. In the video, Jacobs—who was known to friends as Kayden Clarke—is seen crying before a dog comes in.
Police said that Jacobs charged at authorities with a knife, and they didn’t know Jacobs had Asperger’s, a high-functioning variant of autism, CNN reported.
Jacobs’ mother Stacia told the New York Daily News that officers knew.
“Before the police arrived she wasn’t posing a threat to the community at all,” Stacia said. “And the police came into her own place. They shot and killed a 24-year-old autistic, mentally ill individual whom they had been familiar with and aware of her special needs.”
“I talked to her last night and the night before and she seemed fine,” Stacia said, describing Jacobs as a “caring young woman.”
Detective Estaban Flores said officers went to Jacobs’ home after getting reports of an individual was threatening suicide. He said two officers talked to Jacobs through an open door in the hallway before Jacobs came out and lunged at them with a kitchen knife.
“At that point they felt their lives were threatened,” Flores said, adding that both officers opened fire.
In the viral video, Jacobs is seen sobbing as a Rottweiler, named Samson, attempts to calm Jacobs down. “When I have a meltdown, I often have self-injurious behavior and I often self-harm,” Jacobs told the Huffington Post after the video went viral.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to Danielle’s family and friends,” Julian Maha, the founder and CEO of the autism nonprofit, Kulture City, told The Mighty. “This tragedy highlights the increased need for first responder training to teach first responders to effectively interact with autistic and special needs individuals. The training will give them much needed tools to effectively communicate with autistic individuals, help keep both parties safe and hopefully prevent tragedies like these.”