An Arizona couple says they are seeking justice after their autistic son was beaten up at a pizza restaurant last week.
Vincent Courey, 16, is a non-verbal autistic teenager who went out for pizza at the Peoria restaurant where his brothers work on May 7. His parents say that, while he was watching others play games, he tapped someone on the shoulder.
“He’s nonverbal autistic,” Vincent’s mother, Debora Escobar, told FOX 10 Phoenix. “He means no harm. That’s his form of communication.”
A group of customers were reportedly offended by the gesture and beat up the helpless teen.
“[They took] him into the corner where there are no cameras and nobody can see, and beating the crap out of him and then trying to leave the scene,” Vincent’s father, Michael Escobar, explained.
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“My son, he can’t talk and they kept hitting him,” Debora said. “They kept hitting him. He couldn’t say stop. He couldn’t say ‘please, this is hurting me.’ He just stood there helpless, and they just kept hitting him.”
Michael was at the restaurant and called police when he heard two parties screaming at each other. He did not realize that his son touched someone until he was told later.
“I’m thinking, like, that’s not my son to do that, you know. The way they said it, they made it seem like it was an inappropriate touch,” Michael said.
According to Debora, Vincent came home covered in welts.
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“I don’t know how else you can not continue to hurt someone, when they are not even capable of saying stop,” she said.
Peoria Police Department told Fox News Digital that they identified a suspect, but that the man, a 24-year-old from El Mirage, has not yet been arrested.
While police have recommended an assault charge to Peoria City Court, Vincent’s parents say they will continue to fight for their son.
“The officer was still like, we can’t arrest anybody today, and I said what do you mean? He is a minor and these are adults, how can you just let this go?” Debora said.
“I forgive them, but at the same time, forgiveness doesn’t mean you can’t run from being held accountable,” Michael added.
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