By Rick Sallinger

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The Adams County District Attorney says his office is declining to file charges in the case of an 11-year-old boy with autism, who was arrested after having an emotional meltdown in school.

Sam Costa is autistic and very intelligent.

Sam Costa (credit: CBS)

He was attending Bennett Middle School when he became upset in February. His mother Danielle Costa says he began to fight while being restrained by school personnel.

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“While it’s not okay for him to have those behaviors, it’s not unexpected,” she told CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger.

Danielle Costa (credit: CBS)

The police report states he was mad after losing at chess. He punched and swore at those who restrained him.

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Sam was given a municipal arrest summons for interference with education and assault charges. They were later dropped.

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But months later, Sam had moved to a new school and neighborhood only to learn the Adams District Attorney Office was ordering him into what is called a diversion program to include treatment.

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District Attorney Dave Young says they only recently received the additional information about Sam, “There is nothing in the sheriff’s report to indicate he had autism.”

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It was learned that Sam was already receiving attention through programs. The case of Sam Costa was declined.

Young pointed out that those diagnosed with autism can still be charged with a crime.

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Danielle Costa is glad the matter has been finally resolved, “It’s still frustrating that this was ever allowed to have happened in the first place.”

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The Bennett School District said it could not comment because it involved student and personnel issues.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.


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