Virginia Governor conditionally pardons autistic black man

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ASPartOfMe
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17 Dec 2020, 5:56 am

Virginia Governor Conditionally Pardons Black Man With Autism Who Was Serving 10 Years For Car Crashes

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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is set to conditionally pardon a young Black man with autism who was serving 10 years in prison after he was involved in two car crashes in 2019 that left two people seriously injured.

January of last year, Matthew Rushin was on his way to pick up pastries at a Panera Bread in Virginia Beach, when he hit a moving vehicle in a parking lot and fled. Authorities report that he then drove head-on into oncoming traffic and struck another vehicle, which left two people seriously injured.

The 22-year-old would later plead guilty to two counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit and run personal injury. The Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office says he was sentenced to 50 years in prison with a judge suspending 40 years from it.

Since his sentencing, Rushin's family, along with mental health advocates and members of the autism community, have been calling for his release. They claim authorities didn’t provide appropriate accommodations or consider his communication access needs. Now, Rushin’s is on a path for release next spring.

Mr. Rushin was sentenced for 50 years, despite sentencing guidelines that call for a sentence of 2 years 7 months up to 6 years 4 months," Alena Yarmosky, a spokesperson for the governor, told CNN. "Governor Northam's conditional pardon aligns Mr. Rushin's sentence with these sentencing guidelines."

Upon his release, Matthew Rushin will have to follow a series of strict guidelines.

Yarmosky says he is not allowed to drive again, will have to be under supervised probation for five years, and take part in "mental health treatment, counseling, and a substance abuse evaluation.”


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kitesandtrainsandcats
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17 Dec 2020, 9:31 am

There has been quite a bit of discussion about Matthew Rushin's case on a WordPress blog by and for autistics which is named NeuroClastic.

https://neuroclastic.com/?s=Matthew+Rushin

Here's a sample that is very much worth reading; https://neuroclastic.com/2020/06/23/mat ... nsic-data/

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Skilled Autistic Stunt Driver, Clumsy Autistic Panic Driver, or Homicidal Maniacal Driver?
From the time I first read about Matthew’s accident, the way the accident has been described has wildly varied.

Mostly, the tale has been told in melodramatic language, especially by local news stations, with sensational accounts of a giant SUV (a 2008 Tahoe) weaving in and out of congested traffic, in the wrong direction, at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour.

A 20-year-old rushes to flee accountability after hitting someone in a parking lot, then goes on this driving rampage and eventually crashes into someone head on, on purpose, causing severe injury to a tourist.

It sounded more like a Die Hard movie than an accident.

So, I was left with essentially two choices:
1. to believe Matthew Rushin had a severe PTSD autistic meltdown and didn’t know what he was doing, lost control, and crashed, or

2. to believe Matthew Rushin was in control, chose to flee the scene of an accident, and then used his large vehicle like a guided missile in an attempt to end his life while also ending someone else’s (or at least having no regard for their safety).

But, I’ve spent over 140 hours of the last week poring over the details of this case, reaching out to relevant people, conducting interviews, scouring Matthew’s online fingerprints, and requesting additional information.

Because in the courtroom, the logistics of the accident were never really described with more than a few words. The “footage” of the accident (as can be seen in this article) doesn’t even show the accident– or anything, really.

And the footage that would have shown the accident, or the events no one saw but somehow became a part of the narrative, didn’t show up in court.

There were two cars hit: an initial impact and a car that was hit when the Tahoe spun sideways.

I can only guess that the footage didn’t show the narrative they wanted to paint, because it is clear that there was an agenda in Matthew Rushin’s case.


:arrow: I'm going to call that bit to be highly significant,
Quote:
The first thing that is apparent is that no one understood why Matthew freaked out. The “bump” in the parking lot that was supposed to be a minor accident was allegedly Matthew’s fault; however, when I read the court transcripts, I had a hard time understanding why that accident was Matthew’s fault.

In reading the transcript from the body cameras, Matthew references that accident four times. Each time, he explains why he freaked out, and each time, the officers fail to understand what he was trying to communicate.


:arrow: "and each time, the officers fail to understand what he was trying to communicate."

Isn't that pretty much the norm with encounters between Law Enforcement and we who are autistic?


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Fnord
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17 Dec 2020, 9:46 am

kitesandtrainsandcats wrote:
Quote:
The first thing that is apparent is that no one understood why Matthew freaked out. The “bump” in the parking lot that was supposed to be a minor accident was allegedly Matthew’s fault; however, when I read the court transcripts, I had a hard time understanding why that accident was Matthew’s fault.

In reading the transcript from the body cameras, Matthew references that accident four times. Each time, he explains why he freaked out, and each time, the officers fail to understand what he was trying to communicate.


:arrow: "and each time, the officers fail to understand what he was trying to communicate."

Isn't that pretty much the norm with encounters between Law Enforcement and we who are autistic?
No.  Instead, it is the norm when Police Officers encounter someone who (1) admits to a crime and (2) tries to explain why it wasn't their fault.

Besides, how are the Police supposed to know when someone has autism?  "They say so" is never good enough, because the Police have likely heard every excuse from "They came outta nowhere" to "I have diplomatic immunity", and therefore they treat every suspect the same way: cuff 'em, read 'em their rights, take 'em downtown, book 'em (prints, pics, and statement), put 'em in a cell, and wait for 'em to post bail.

I blame the original defense lawyer, who should have at least got the kid a reduced sentence.


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