• Mother of man with autism jailed for spitting on Jacksonville officer speaks out

    By: Jenna Bourne , Action News Jax


    UPDATE: The State Attorney’s Office has dropped the charges against Justin Hudson

    The mother of a man with autism is frustrated about his felony arrest after he spat on a Jacksonville police officer.

    Elsa Hudson said her 20-year-old son Justin Hudson has the mental capacity of a 5- to 7-year-old and should not have been held in jail for days.

    She said her son has an IQ of 52 and suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy in addition to his autism.

    “When Justin goes sideways and he gets angry, he does lash out. That’s from his head,” she said, pointing to several holes in the wall of her living room.

    She said Justin Hudson sneaked out of a bathroom window around 4 a.m. on Monday and walked to his neighbor’s house.

    That neighbor called the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

    Officers arrived and tried to return Justin Hudson to his family.

    When the officers told Justin Hudson he was trespassing, he spit on one of the officers, the incident report said.

    He was charged with felony battery on a law enforcement officer.

    “The one thing that just really slapped me in the face is I seriously thought, at that hearing on Monday, that he would be released because of the way he is,” Elsa Hudson said.

    Instead, the judge set his bond at $10,000.

    It was two days before his family could raise enough money on a YouCaring fundraising page to bail him out.

    The neighbor who called police told Action News Jax it’s not the first time Justin Hudson has trespassed at her house.

    She said, one time, he threw rocks at her family and, another time, he showed up with a serrated bread knife.

    “The cops did not handle him wrong. They know what kind of issues he has. But he keeps breaking out of his house to come to our home and we don’t know him,” said the neighbor, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation.

    “I know the way it looks. It looks dangerous. But he didn’t take that to go hurt somebody,” Elsa Hudson said.

    She said there needs to be a better understanding in the justice system of autistic suspects.

    “I would like more understanding that they are people too. They – it’s very hard, OK? It’s very hard,” she said. “He’s just got the sweetest soul.”

    Action News Jax called and emailed JSO Public Information Officer Christian Hancock to find out more about the autism training that officers receive.

    Hancock did not respond.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law last month requiring autism training for officers across the state.

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