10-year-old on autism spectrum arrested

Problem Solvers

Sam Costa, an 11-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, plays video games while sitting next to his mother, Danielle and his little sister.

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BENNETT, Colo. -- A boy on the autism spectrum, who was arrested by an Adams County sheriff's deputy, is not facing criminal charges.

Sam Costa was arrested at Bennett Middle School in February after what his mother, Danielle, describes as a meltdown, where he was not properly restrained.

"Because he wasn’t being properly restrained, he was able to strike people," Danielle Costa told the Problem Solvers. "That’s true. And I want to say, he was also biting people."

Sam - who was then 10 years old - was also cursing and spitting, according to an Adams County Sheriff's Office report obtained by the Problem Solvers.

Meanwhile, the Bennett School District Superintendent told the Problem Solvers everyone who made contact with Sam was certified to restrain him.

After the episode, a sheriff's deputy arrested Sam.

"Oh my gosh, I was shocked," said Danielle Costa.

The Bennett municipal prosecutor declined to press charges against Sam. So the sheriff's office took the case to District Attorney Dave Young.

"I’m assuming there was a miscommunication out there," Young told the Problem Solvers. "The reports that we got from the sheriff’s office indicated that the municipal prosecutor wanted to pursue charges in state court."

Young also recently learned that Sam is on the autism spectrum and is in a special education program in Douglas County schools. So the DA decided not to refer Sam to a diversion program.

"At the end of the day, I wish nothing but the best for the child," Young said.

"To me, the fact that this ever happened to Sam feels wrong," Danielle said. "That feels like an injustice. It never should’ve gone as far as it did."

Danielle has created a Facebook page called Autism Isn't A Crime to bring awareness to the issue and created a Justice for Sam page on Bonfire.

The Problem Solvers asked the Adams County Sheriff's Office why all of the information in the case wasn't forwarded to the district attorney's office, but did not get an answer.

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