LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Walmart shopper is accused of slamming the shopping cart in which his autistic son was riding into a concrete pole, injuring the child.
Gary Cooper, 43, was exiting the Walmart on Diann Marie Road off Chamberlain Lane Sunday with his 6-year-old autistic son seated in the shopping cart. Cooper was pushing when he violently shoved the cart into the pole, according to witnesses. Officers said the impact caused injuries to the child, including bleeding from the mouth and a possible sprained ankle.
Police said the incident was captured on store surveillance video.
Louisville Metro Police Department Spokeswoman Alicia Smiley said of the 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."
Lynn Watson, a board member for Families for Effective Autism Treatment, is the mother of an autistic child. Watson said children with autism tend to act out in crowded situations like a shopping center because they can't always effectively communicate. She says she understands how difficult that can be for parents out in public, but said violence is never the answer.
"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.
As of Monday night, LMPD said Child Protective Services are investigating the case and officers plan to take a closer look at the store's surveillance video.
Cooper is charged with fourth-degree assault and child abuse.