Police shot dead an Arizona man with Asperger’s after being called to his home to check on his wellbeing.
Kayden Clarke, 24, gained online fame last year after he posted a video demonstrating how his dog, a Rottweiler named Samson, helped him through a meltdown. Clarke identified as a man, but he was known publicly by his birth name, Danielle Jacobs, at the time of the footage.
Mesa police officers showed up at his apartment after receiving multiple calls indicating he may be suicidal around 11 a.m. Thursday. Heather Allen — president of HALO Animal Rescue, where Clarke previously volunteered and adopted Samson — told AZ Family that she called police and asked officers to check on him after he sent her some concerning emails. Allen said she was told law enforcement was already on the way there.
Detective Esteban Flores said that officers — who were not wearing body cameras — fired after Clarke came towards them holding a knife.
“When [he] made contact with them [he] approached them with the knife, extended it out, and they felt threatened,” Flores told AZ Family.
Clarke was taken to a hospital and died of his injuries.
His mother, identified only as Stacia, condemned the shooting in an interview with the New York Daily News.
“Before the police arrived [he] wasn’t posing a threat to the community at all,” she said. “And the police came into [his] own place. They shot and killed a 24-year-old autistic, mentally ill individual whom they had been familiar with and aware of [his] special needs.”
Samson, Clarke’s well-known dog, is now in the care of his family.
Clarke posted a YouTube video in December expressing how “ecstatic” he was to learn that his insurance would pay 100 percent of his gender reassignment surgery.
He also said that Arizona had the “worst mental health system across the United States” in a January YouTube video, and noted that he had received “practically no support.”