ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The family of a man with autism who died at a Central Florida group home has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
"We were assured he’d be safe. We trusted them to keep him safe. Instead, they killed him," said Tom Walker.
Walker’s son, Caleb, was 27-years-old at the time of his death. He was placed in the Oconee Group Home in Eustis run by Attain back in 2018.
"He didn’t deserve to be murdered like that," said Caleb’s mother, Sarah Walker. "We trusted them to take care of him, and they didn’t."
Civil Rights attorney Benjamin Crump is representing the family in their wrongful death and negligence lawsuit. Walker’s parents said Caleb had severe autism that he needed therapy to control aggressive behavior.
According to the family’s lawsuit against the group home and staff, on November 25, 2020, caretakers restrained Caleb after an outburst. The suit alleges he was improperly restrained.
"Instead of giving him help at this group home, they killed Caleb Walker," Crump said.
"Caleb was my baby," his mother said through tears. "They promised they would take care of him. They promised they would keep him safe….he didn't deserve to be murdered like that."
Crump described the tactics that aides used to restrain Caleb as ‘WWE wrestling therapy."
"They were doing a WWE wrestling therapy is what they said when they killed this young man," said Crump. "Caleb Walker, this young man, died from the same thing that George Floyd died from. Positional Asphyxiation."
Attain’s Executive director Craig Cook argues the state medical examiner found otherwise.
"She found that the cause of death was because of a cardiac condition that occurred during the restraint, and she found that there was no wrongdoing that occurred with the staff members that were involved in the incident," said Cook.
Cook stands by the training and actions of his staff.
"At that time they were necessary to be implemented. The staff was there to implement the strategies, and they did them correctly," said Cook.
The lawsuit alleges wrongful death and negligence.