KS Rep Gail Finney is celebrating a victory today, not for herself, but for people with autism, their family and friends. Last fall, Finney introduced a bill in the Kansas House in response to what she felt was the unnecessary and tragic death of Joey Weber.
Weber’s death on Aug. 16, 2016 — it was right around Finney’s birthday – touched her. Weber, 36, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. He lived in Hay and on Aug. 16 when a Hays Police officer signaled for him to pull over, Joey panicked. Instead of pulling over, he drove to a safe place he knew, New Age Services, a facility for disabled.
When he arrived at New Age, Joey got out of the car and the situation escalated. He was eventually shot and killed.
The noise of the sirens, the trauma of the police car following him, combined with his autism left Joey completely confused, said his parents.
“He was just totally terrified by then,” his father John Weber told the Hays Daily News.
The bill was originally introduced by Finney in the House was amended slightly, but as approved it establishes several forms of identification to let the police know the driver is autistic. The bill allows for putting information about needing assistance with cognition on a driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, identification card and on a license plate. An amendment to the bill also allows for a transportable placard displayed in the vehicle, such as a handicap placard.
The bill passed both the Kansas House and Senate with bi-partisan support.