Huntsville mom wants answers after son with Down syndrome released from jail, left wandering the streets

Police arrested 25-year-old Tanner Caldwell Thursday morning for trespassing on his neighbor's property.

Posted: May 17, 2019 7:22 PM
Updated: May 20, 2019 10:40 PM

A mother is looking for change after her son with Down syndrome was released from jail, and she says he was left wandering the streets in the middle of the night.

Police arrested 25-year-old Tanner Caldwell Thursday morning for trespassing on his neighbor's property. Jail records show he was released at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Tanner Caldwell

His family says he was able to get back home after flagging down a police officer on Memorial Parkway.

WAAY 31 spoke to Caldwell's mother who says this issue goes beyond her son.

A police officer knocked on LaquitaTate's front door Friday morning to let her know her son was in the back seat of the police car.

"He's not doing very well. He's not saying much. He keeps saying that he's very scared and that his hands were very shaky," said Tate.

Tanner Caldwell is now at home after a terrifying night. He was arrested Thursday morning for trespassing on his neighbor's property and home, something his mother says he doesn't quite comprehend.

"Tanner just doesn't have the mentality to understand. Like, he loves this man, but he doesn't understand why he doesn't want to be my friend anymore," she said.

That neighbor told WAAY 31, "no comment."

Caldwell was taken to the Madison County Jail. His mother says she was supposed to take her son home after he appeared in court Friday morning, but things didn't go according to plan.

She says he was released from jail in the middle of the night, because he was allowed to sign an unsecured bond and was considered non-violent. He was then left wandering the streets of Huntsville in the middle of the night.

"He had no way to contact anyone, no cell phone. He had no idea where he was, and he was in what I would consider an unsafe area," said Tate.

Tate said Caldwell was wandering on the Parkway at night when he came across a police officer that took him home. Tate is thankful for that officer, but now wants something to be done after finding out it's quite common for some inmates to be released after signing an unsecured bond.

"We're hoping to get law enforcement agencies trained on how to work with individuals with disabilities, with mental health issues, so that individuals are not released without having some type of support," said Tate.

Tate says she'll be meeting with the Alabama Disability Advocacy Program on Tuesday to see what she can do to make that happen.

WAAY 31 reached out to Huntsville police and the Madison County Jail to learn their current policy when dealing with people with special needs. We have not heard back at this time.

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