A 16-year-old autistic girl was arrested by British police in Leeds this week after an officer accused her of making “homophobic” remarks. A twice-removed TikTok showing a snapshot of the event has since gone viral on social media.
Speaking to pro-women news outlet Reduxx, the mother of the teenage girl, who goes by Nikita Snow on social media, recounted the events that lead up to the video.
Snow says she believed her younger daughter, who Reduxx gave the anonymized name “Amanda,” had been at a sleepover while her older daughter, who is 18, was out with friends. But unbeknownst to her, Amanda had wandered out of the sleepover to go find her older sister.
After the two met up, the elder sibling believed Amanda was behaving in “unsafe ways,” and contacted the police to take her home from Leeds city centre, after being unable to get in contact with their mother.
“They said they would come [and] assist in getting her home as she is vulnerable, with her being diagnosed with autism,” Snow told Reduxx. “When they arrived where my two daughters were, Amanda refused to travel alone with them and wanted her sister to come with her, so she agreed.”
At around 1 a.m. on Monday morning, Snow was woken up by officers from West Yorkshire Police at her door, with her two daughters in tow.
“One of the officers had hold of Amanda and was squeezing her arm very tightly. She asked me to get [the officer] off her arm as it was hurting so I guided my daughter inside,” she recounted.
However, at this point, Amanda innocently suggested that the officer who had been her was a lesbian, comparing her to her “nanna Julie,” given that the female officer had short, blonde hair.
“I just felt a jolt on my back… the officer had launched herself in my home at me and Amanda. She was grabbing her,” Snow said.
In the video footage, Amanda can be seen hiding in a cupboard under the stairs, crying and apologizing to the police officer, seemingly unsure of exactly what was occurring.
“She’s getting arrested,” the female officer can be heard saying in the video. “Another unit’s coming, don’t worry … I’m telling you another unit is coming, she is going to get arrested tonight.” At one point, the officer says she “doesn’t care” if Amanda has autism.
Snow can be heard pleading with the police to be more understanding of the situation, pointing out her daughter’s diagnosis, and that she shouldn’t be arrested simply for saying the word “lesbian.”
Eventually, six police officers escorted Amanda out of her home. At one point during the video, the teenager can be seen falling to the ground, and one officer appears to twist her arm behind her back in an attempt to get her to stand up.
Snow tries to explain that Amanda also has severe scoliosis, which would result in terrible pain from her joints being manipulated in the way that they were.
After being taken to the police station, Amanda spent 20 hours under arrest before being released on unconditional bail, and has yet to be officially charged with any offense.
“Amanda was never read her rights, was not cautioned, and the police woman did not have a warrant and was not invited inside [my home]. She also assaulted me, and if she didn’t caution Amanda that’s also assault in the eyes of the law. It’s also unlawful arrest as policies weren’t followed properly,” Snow argued. She confirmed that she had put in an official complaint with the police.
Following the footage being released to social media, West Yorkshire Police released a statement, confirming that she had been arrested on “suspicion of a homophobic public order offence.”
The statement read that a “family member” of Amanda had called the police, and accused the autistic girl of having been intoxicated.
“Upon returning her to the address, comments were made which resulted in the girl being arrested on suspicion of a homophobic public order offence. The nature of the comments made was fully captured on body-worn video,” the statement continued, with the police claiming that the video released by Snow only provides “a limited snapshot of the circumstances of this incident.”
They added: “West Yorkshire Police takes its responsibilities around the welfare of young people taken into custody and around neurodiversity very seriously. We also maintain that our officers and staff should not have to face abuse while working to keep our communities safe.”
The police force states the circumstances of the incident are still under review, and ask people to “avoid reaching any conclusions” about it based on the video.
According to national statistics from 2021, British police officers were “victims” in up to half of all hate crime prosecutions. For West Yorkshire Police specifically, over a third of all “victims” of hate crimes were police officers.
“There’s also a public policy basis for prosecuting harassment of police officers in the course of their duty: it’s important for recruitment of ethnic minority and gay police officers that these offences are taken seriously,” said Joanna Perry, a hate crime consultant.