LOS ANGELES -- It started as a routine police encounter after officers spotted a shadowy figure lying under a balcony behind a Hollywood apartment building.
The man, Mohammad Usman Chaudhry, was cordial at first. He handed over his ID and chatted with officers about his shoes, other cops he knew and how he stayed dry when it rained.
Moments later, he was dead.
Officer Joseph Cruz said he shot Chaudhry after he lunged at him with a knife. What Cruz and his partner apparently did not know was that Chaudhry was autistic.
Three years later, as a jury weighs a lawsuit against police by Chaudhry's family, the killing highlights a challenge law enforcement increasingly faces: How to approach people with developmental disorders.