TikTok influencer family with son who has autism victim of swatting incident

Irisa Leverette has used her platform for autism acceptance and awareness. Her 18-year-old son Dariuous has autism.

Matt Trapani and Eliecer Marte

Apr 22, 2023, 3:30 AM

Updated 460 days ago

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A North Brunswick family with a large following on TikTok says that they were the victim of a swatting incident.
Irisa Leverette has used her platform for autism acceptance and awareness. Her 18-year-old son Dariuous has autism.
“Just to show the world a behind-the-scenes look at autism. The autism you don’t get to see on TV,” Leverette says.
Leverette shares what her days are like with her son - the good and bad times.
"When Dariuous comes home from school, we go live on TikTok. In the morning, we have a morning routine that we go live, depending on how he is feeling,” she says.
But this past Monday afternoon, Leverette’s live broadcast on the app did not go as planned. She says she unexpectedly heard a knock banging on her front door.
“As I come downstairs, there’s banging harder and then I heard a voice, ‘Police, police!’ They said, ‘Open the door slowly.’ That’s when I knew I needed to put my hands up,” Leverette says.
So why were the police at the Leverette family home?
“It was around 3:55 in the afternoon, we received a phone call saying that somebody has killed his wife and he was about to kill his child, too. He made some threats that if police [were] to intervene or the police got anywhere close, he will be killing police officers as well,” says North Brunswick Police Capt. Brian Hoiberg.
Hoiberg says they took the tactics needed in those types of situations. But determined that it was a fake call.
“As I am being pulled out of the house, I am looking around seeing all these police officers, like my heart is pounding because I see all these guns in my face,” Leverette says.
She says that she felt like she couldn’t protect her child.
“They said, ‘Get up against the house, put your hands up against the wall,’ and a female officer patted me down,” Leverette says. “I was scared for my son because I didn’t know what was going to happen to him while they were in my house with guns. I knew my son was in danger.”
Leverette says that her son was in the bathtub at the time and that her husband was at work.
“The only thing I can say was my autistic son, he is 18, he doesn’t understand,” Leverette says. “I said, ‘I want my son, he is in the house. He is autistic.’ I said it over and over And I still did not have any clue why they were here.”
Leverette was eventually allowed to come back into the house and was asked to open the garage door. Meanwhile, she and a female officer were getting Dariuous out of the bathtub.
“I put him on the bed, and I came downstairs and that’s when they told me about the call,” Leverette says.
News 12 New Jersey asked North Brunswick police if their tactics change when a person with autism is involved.
“The tactics we would use to get in that residence and to secure and clear the residence, a lot of those are the same,” Hoiberg says. “However, it is good to know we are dealing with someone who is autistic once we are inside, because we may think they are ignoring our command but now with that warning, we know it is not a purposely act of ignoring us.”
But Leverette says that this wasn’t good enough.
“They didn’t ask who I was. They just pulled me out of the [house.] How do they know I wasn’t the autistic one until I said something? Why didn’t they say why they were here? They had time to say it,” she says.
It is unclear if in these types of situations when police are responding to calls of this magnitude, including an alleged homicide if they have to disclose the reason for them being there. Authorities would not reveal to News 12 New Jersey the tactics or protocols they used in this case.


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