Iowa autism advocate’s brush with police leads to proposed driver’s license designation

Published by: Omaha World-Herald
Written by:

Tyler Leech was leaving a church group’s bowling outing in West Des Moines one evening when he was pulled over by a police officer. A hard-rock party was going on nearby at the Val-Air Ballroom and there were a lot of police in the area.

Leech has autism. “The cop asked me, did I know that my tail light was out, and I looked at him all confused,” he said.

Before he knew it, the Des Moines man was out of the car, handcuffed and being subjected to a pat-down. The officer searched his pockets and asked if he’d been smoking marijuana.

“I told him no, ‘I’ve never smoked anything in my life,’” Leech said. He doesn’t even drink alcohol.

When no drugs turned up on Leech or in a search of the car, he was released. But the experience was traumatic, said his mother, Sheri Leech.

“He was embarrassed and ashamed and he didn’t even tell his dad it happened,” she said. “He felt very violated being handcuffed.”

She said the incident could have had a far worse outcome if her son had become frightened and tried to run, resisted being detained or tried to pull his phone out of his pocket. “My son could have been shot,” she said.

Tyler Leech, 27, decided to do something about that. Click here to read the rest of the story.

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