The video below has been released in a lawsuit over a highly disturbing case where a Riverside undercover officer befriended a 17-year-old boy with autism and convinced him to buy pot for him. They then arrested him and added him to their list of drug war statistics. Before the arrest, in addition to autism, their son had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Tourette syndrome and anxiety disorders.
The teenager was one of 21 other high school students arrested on drug-dealing charges as part of a sting operation last December at Chaparral High School in Temecula, Calif. and neighboring schools. His parents, Catherine and Doug Snodgrass, are suing the Temecula Valley School District, alleging negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They say that their son has autism and did not have friends. That made him an ideal target for the undercover officer who befriended him. His parents were excited that he had made a friend. The video from the arrest is heart-breaking when the kid realized that Deputy Daniel Zipperstein of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in uniform was his friend, Daniel.
They say that Zipperstein hounded their son to sell him marijuana or his prescription medication and that after more than three weeks of constant pressure, the teen bought a half-joint from a homeless man and gave it to the officer. Half a joint. He then was convinced to make a second small buy but then refused to do it again. He was then arrested. Quite a trophy.
The parents say that the autistic teen is still reeling from the betrayal and arrest, including insomnia, panic attacks, depression, paranoia and infliction of self-injury, his parents said.
The Riverside Sheriff’s office has brushed aside the public outcry over the case and said that it “followed all pertinent laws and the case was reviewed by the DA’s Office. Had there been entrapment issues, the DA’s Office would not have filed the case.” In such case, the need for reform includes both the police and prosecutors.