Walmart shopper accused of intentionally injuring autistic son with shopping cart

Man charged with fourth-degree assault and child abuse.
By Evan Bleier  |  Dec. 17, 2013 at 10:46 AM
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A Walmart customer in Kentucky has been charged with fourth-degree assault and child abuse after he allegedly intentionally injured his autistic son by slamming the shopping cart he was riding in on a concrete pole.

Gary Cooper, 43, was leaving a Louisville Walmart on Sunday when witnesses say he shoved the cart that was carrying his 6-year-old autistic son into a pole. The impact of the collision caused the child to bleed from his mouth and possibly sprain his ankle.

The Louisville Metro Police Department and Child Protective Services plan to look at the store's surveillance video to determine exactly what happened.

LMPD Spokeswoman Alicia Smiley was complimentary of witnesses who stayed to talk to police, "So many times, people don't want to get involved and people aren't sure if they're putting themselves at risk, but in this case it was definitely the right thing to do."

A board member for Families for Effective Autism Treatment, Lynn Watson, has an autistic child of her own and understands that sometimes it can be tough for parents to bring their kids to crowded places. That said, violence is never an acceptable response.

"I don't think there's any excuse for becoming so frustrated or so unglued as a parent that you injure a six-year-old in this way particularly a six-year-old who has some limitations and some issues and requires a little bit of special care," Watson said.


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