Mother wants Georgia officers who tased her nonverbal son with autism to be fired

Glynn County Police Officers, Todd Allen and Zach Hampel are seen tasing a man with autism half a dozen times. Their files show that they have not been suspended or disciplined since the incident, but the mother of the man says they did not perform their jobs properly and wants them fired.

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. – The News4Jax I-Team has obtained the personnel files for two Glynn County Police officers who tasered a man with autism multiple times. It was an incident that was recorded by a body camera.

Their files do not show that they have been disciplined or placed on administrative leave since the incident. They also show the officers have had strong performance reviews in the past.

The mother of the man who was tasered by officers has filed a complaint with the Glynn County Police Department, and said she wants the officers who were involved fired.

The video shows Glynn County Police Officer Todd Allen using a Taser to shock Rajon Cherry after he didn’t obey commands to drop a metal object in his hand.

Officer Zach Hampel arrived as backup while Cherry, who has autism and is nonverbal, continued to ignore their commands to get on the ground. Over the course of about 10 minutes, he was tasered at least six times.

“Tortured him. You tortured him,” said mother Sherril Johnson. “I’m his voice and he’s my heart. He lives on the inside of me, and I’m not going to let nobody else hurt him.”

Records show Allen is a veteran officer who has had extensive training, including a one-hour course on interviews for victims, suspects or defendants with autism. Records show Hampel received training on disability awareness in 2018.

On the scene of the tasering incident, bystanders can be heard on video screaming that Cherry had special needs, including his sister.

“He’s autistic! What are y’all doing?” one bystander can be heard saying.

“To constantly keep tasing him and to hear those screams...I hear those screams all the time. I hear those screams all the time,” said sister Sasha Troup. “You can’t get those kind of screams out your head. I didn’t even know my brother could scream like that.”

Cherry’s family wants more training for officers dealing with people with special needs. His mother also wants someone to answer for what her son experienced.

A spokesperson with the Glynn County Police Department said an administrative review of the incident has been completed, but the results of that cannot be released until the investigation into Johnson’s complaint has been finished.

About the Author:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter