ALPHARETTA, Ga. – A 27-year-old Roswell man walked into the Burger King at Mansell Road and North Point Parkway in Alpharetta July 28 and began asking people waiting in line for $20. When no one gave him what he wanted, he allegedly told them “If you don’t give me the money, I’m going to kill you with my gun.” He then left the store.
Police were immediately called to the scene and found the suspect across the street. The case is complicated with the news that the suspect has Down Syndrome.
“The police officer cannot know what the level of impairment is,” said George Gordon, spokesman for the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety. “We know this individual was capable of walking into a restaurant and making demands and threats.”
The officer found the young man at a nearby restaurant and the young man was arrested for robbery by intimidation. The officer then went above the call of duty by helping him.
Instead of allowing him to be taken downtown by himself, the officer went with him, Gordon said. He also asked a local judge to allow him to be released to his parents instead of stay in jail.
“We personally drove him to Fulton County Jail and had it so he was isolated by himself so his mother could come down and take custody of him,” Gordon said.
The arresting officer responded in a way that Crandall Heard approves. He is the Justice and Developmental Disabilities Project Manager for All About Developmental Disabilities, an advocacy group in Atlanta to help get resources and support for those with mental disabilities.
“I think they’re response in this situation was correct,” Heard said.
“The officer didn’t approach the situation in a manner to make it escalate. They also made sure someone was coming to get him and making sure he couldn’t get hurt when they took him downtown.
“That’s very positive,” Heard said. “This officer did a big part of what we talk about in training,”
Heard offers police and other public safety officers training in how to respond to crimes committed by the mentally disabled.
“The young man more than likely didn’t have any criminal intent,” Heard said. “It sounded like he was frustrated. He may not have known what would happen.”