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Autistic NYC boy ‘devastated’ after arrest for choosing ‘Heathers’ movie for school assignment: suit




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May 28, 2023 | 1:40 p.m


An autistic Harlem boy was arrested by the NYPD and subjected to a mental evaluation after he chose the 1[ads1]989 dark comedy “Heathers” for a school assignment — telling a teacher he identified with the murderous protagonist, according to a lawsuit.

Asked to pick a movie to discuss in class last year, Terrance O’Connor, 15, watched the Winona Ryder classic on his iPad before telling his teacher he identified with Christian Slater’s killer character, “JD,” according to his father , David, 45.

The teacher then reported the boy to school administrators, who notified security at PS 72/The Lexington Academy on East 104th Street in Harlem, who in turn recommended contacting the NYPD, O’Connor said in a complaint filed May 19.

No one told police that Terrance was autistic and in special education, said his father, who described the boy as “15, but he’s really more like 5.”


David O’Connor, 45, said no one told police his son has special needs.
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Police told O’Connor they were arresting Terrance “for murderous intent and a potential terroristic threat,” according to the Manhattan Supreme Court complaint against the city, the Department of Education, the NYPD, the Health and Hospitals Corp. and others .

More than half a dozen officers then showed up at O’Connor’s door later that day and took the boy to the 23rd Precinct for questioning, court documents said.


David O’Connor shows a photo of his son Terrance, 15, who allegedly underwent a mental evaluation after choosing the dark comedy “Heathers” for a class assignment.
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“If you see this kid, he won’t hurt a bug. He’s the sweetest kid in the world,” the elder O’Connor told The Post. “They never notified the police that my son was a special needs student. I got not even allowed to say goodbye to my son. They kept him, no lawyer, nothing, they were there talking to him.”

The boy was then sent to Metropolitan Hospital for a mental evaluation, the complaint states.

“It really shamed him. He’s seen a lot in one night that no child should ever see, especially because of other people’s mistakes and bad judgment,” O’Connor said.


Terrance is the “sweetest kid in the world” but won’t leave the house anymore after dealing with the arrest, his father says.
Courtesy of David O’Connor

Terrance did not return home from the June 2, 2022, ordeal until after midnight, the furious father said.

Now “my son, he does not leave the house. … He thinks the police and the feds are watching him. So he isolates himself, said O’Connor, a father of three.

“My son wasn’t broken before this.”

The family has seen its share of tragedy, said O’Connor, who recalled losing their home in Hurricane Sandy and his children, including Terrance, finding their mother dead in the bathroom after battling health problems.

“I don’t have my son. My son, the one I wanted to sit down and make Legos with, I don’t have him,” he lamented.


Christian Slater as “JD” in “Heathers”.
©New World Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Slater, flanked by Wynona Ryder, plays a murderous teenager in the film.
©New World Pictures/Courtesy Everett Col / Everett Collection

The boy was “seriously failed by the institutions that should have protected him,” said family lawyer Migir Ilganayev. “What happened to TJ should never happen to any child, regardless of whether they are autistic or not.”

The family is seeking unspecified compensation. The NYPD and the city’s law department declined to comment on the lawsuit.




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