Stephon Watts was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when he was 9 years old. He loved computers and coding. At age 15, Stephon had a mental health episode at his home in south suburban Calumet City. His father called police, and shortly after they arrived, they shot and killed Stephon.
At StoryCorps, his sister Renee Watts questioned his mom, Danelene Dickens-Powell about his life.
A bill inspired by Stephon’s death passed the Illinois House last month and is now pending before the State Senate. “I really pray and hope that the Senate will pass this bill,” Danelene said. “It will not help Stephon but it will help others.”
Stephon’s father, Steven Sr., died last year. “He was lost from the day Stephon’s life was taken,” Danelene said. “He never never stopped feeling the pain of it. He was lost without him. They were each other’s best friends.”
This interview was facilitated by StoryCorps Chicago’s Elaine Davenport.
Bill Healy produces StoryCorps Chicago for WBEZ and teaches journalism at Northwestern University. Follow him @chicagoan.