A transgender man suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, who posted a video that went viral showing how he was supported by his dog when he was self harming, has been shot dead by police in Mesa, Arizona. Kayden Clarke was killed by officers who were called to his home by neighbors who feared he was trying to commit suicide.
Police and press repeatedly misgendered him by using his legal name Danielle Jacobs, and female pronouns when speaking about him; but friends said they knew him as Kayden Clarke. Clarke had hoped to transition from female to male, but said he faced many obstacles in the process because of his disorder. Mesa police said the 24-year-old was killed by officers responding to a suicidal-person call at his home on Thursday.
People who knew him said the combination of trying to transition, the Asperger’s and other health issues weighed on him. “He was frustrated that no matter what therapist he saw, no one understood and neglected his desire for health and happiness,” said transgender man Kae Glenn, a friend of Clarke’s, in a Facebook message to The Arizona Republic.
A former coworker reported to AZ Central, “He’s been going through a tough time for a very long time. He was stressed about life. His future. His gender. Discrimination at work and online. There was a lot of hate aimed towards him. He suffered drastically … not because of just his body, but because of social media and his social situation.”
Clarke’s mother Stacia, told KPHO that the police overreacted. She said nobody was in danger: “My daughter (sic) died for asking for help,” she said Friday. “She was in her own place. And regardless of what she was thinking, what she was doing, she wasn’t posing a danger to the community. There has to be a better way for law enforcement to respond and handle situations.”
At a news conference Friday, Mesa Detective Esteban Flores said the department had an officer trained in crisis intervention at the scene, but they allegedly had no information about the person’s condition when they came to the house, although AZ family reported that police had also responded to a suicide call for Clarke two years ago.
“Officers had stun guns but did not have other less-lethal options with them”, Detective Esteban Flores said during a news conference. they stated that the 24-year-old came at them with a knife and they fired in self-defense. Officers involved in the shooting, none of whom were hurt, have been placed on administrative leave, according to ABC 15. They were not wearing body cameras.