Family of teen with autism files $5 million claim against Buckeye police for park incident

BUCKEYE, AZ - A Valley family has filed a multimillion-dollar claim against the City of Buckeye after an officer mistook a 14-year-old boy with autism for a drug user.

The notice of claim, which is a precursor for a lawsuit, comes six months after Connor Leibel was stopped, detained, and injured by Officer David Grossman in a neighborhood park.

The July 2017 incident at the center of the notice of claim was captured on Grossman’s body camera and made international headlines.

Buckeye Police cleared Grossman of any wrongdoing and said his level of force was justified. The city also created a controversial registry and wristband program for individuals with disabilities.

Leibel suffered scrapes and bruises from the incident. He also badly injured his ankle needing surgery, the claim said.

After the incident, the Leibel family through an attorney sent Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall a letter with three requests: (1) Grossman apologize face to face (2) Grossman perform community service in the autism community (3) Buckeye institutes autism training for officers.

The letter then said, “If these terms are agreed to first, any financial component of this case will be quickly resolved.”

Buckeye ignored the family’s requests, according to the notice of claim.

“So it’s with a heavy heart, and having received no meaningful response or apology from Buckeye to date, that Connor L. and his family are forced to pursue legal action…,” the claim states.

READ THE NOTICE OF CLAIM

Notice of Claim filed against Buckeye PD by Dave Biscobing on Scribd

An ongoing ABC15 investigation into Buckeye’s response to the incident uncovered the city misled one of the station’s reporters about what happened before the video went public.

ABC15 also discovered Grossman has a checkered career with a documented history of unconstitutional stops and multiple allegations of cowardice.

In an email, a Buckeye spokesperson wrote, “The Buckeye Police Department and its officer received a Notice of Claim on Tuesday, Jan. 16. At this time, the Notice of Claim is under review. For this reason, we are unable to provide any additional information.”

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com.

 

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