Teen with autism dies hours after altercation at Bojangles, family says

The 19-year-old was not on his medication at the time of the dispute, his mother told police.

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The 19-year-old was not on his medication at the time of the dispute, his mother told police.

A family wants answers after a teenager with autism died following an altercation with police and employees at a metro Atlanta Bojangles.

The family’s attorney said 19-year-old Anthony “AJ” Jermaine Mitchell “died in his mother’s arms” shortly after the altercation, which happened about 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 at the restaurant on Fulton Industrial Boulevard.

Mitchell’s mother told police he was off his medication, Risperdal, at the time of the incident, according to a police report obtained by AJC.com.

Risperdal is a medication "used to treat certain mental/mood disorders (such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, irritability associated with autistic disorder)," according to WebMD.com.

Bojangles employees told police that Mitchell often visited the restaurant and “has a mental disability,” the report said.

On that evening, he went into the store and asked for food, but his card was declined. The store manager gave Mitchell the food for free, he told officers.

“After eating, Mitchell asked for more food,” the report said. “When his card was declined again, (the manager) asked him to leave the store.”

We need answers! The family of Anthony Jermaine Mitchell is seeking help from the public regarding his tragic death. ...

Posted by Law Offices of Michael D Harper, PC. on Thursday, November 21, 2019

According to the report, Mitchell then jumped over the counter and approached the manager.

“(The manager) stated that he tried to defend himself against Mitchell,” the report said. “Other employees helped get Mitchell from behind the counter and out of the store where they then called police.”

When officers arrived, they saw Mitchell on the ground blocking the door of the restaurant and stopping employees from exiting, the report said.

“He was bleeding from the mouth and was spitting blood,” the report said.

Mitchell spit blood in the direction of both of the officers, the police report said. The officers said Mitchell stood up and began to “bang his head and body against the front door of the business.”

“Mitchell then opened the door and entered the business while spitting his blood from his mouth onto the floor,” the report said.

At that point, an officer grabbed Mitchell by his arm and put him in handcuffs, the report said.

“Mitchell then used his body weight to fall to the ground while continuing to spit and kick,” the report said.

Mitchell was “removed from the business” and an officer contacted his mother.  Mitchell’s mother was able to calm him down, the report said.

An emergency medical services unit arrived to assess Mitchell. His mother said he did not need medical attention, according to the report. She said she is an EMT and would get him medical help if he needed it.

Police released Mitchell to his mother, and she took him home.

However, 10 minutes after they arrived, his breathing became labored, family attorney Michael Harper said in a news release.

Mitchell’s cause of death is not clear. Harper said he and the family are seeking more details about what happened.

“The legal team, family and supporters of AJ demand answers regarding this senseless tragedy,” he said.

A vigil was held Monday night at the restaurant.

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