CBS News reported that a North Carolina mother is calling out law enforcement officers for their treatment of her son outside an emergency room during a mental health crisis. The teen is expected in court Tuesday, facing four charges from the incident, including felony malicious conduct.
In surveillance video of the scene obtained by CBS News, which happened in December in Lincolnton, outside Charlotte, security guards are seen tackling the teenager. At another point, a sheriff's deputy punches him in the head while he's handcuffed, reports correspondent Don Dahler.
His mother, Jessica Long, told CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV that security officers and law enforcement escalated the situation instead of helping her son, who's been treated for mental illness in the past. "They did the worst; they made it worse," Long said.
The video shows the moments Long's 16-year-old son, Hayden, was tackled to the ground and punched twice in the head. "They just immediately went for full-blown physical force," Long tells CBS News. "And these were big guys, and my son's, what, maybe 120 pounds."
Officials with the hospital, Atrium Health, say their officers acted appropriately with Hayden. "He kept saying to the officers that he had a gun and he wanted to shoot people," said Maureen Swick, Senior Vice President, System Nurse Executive at Atrium Health. "So, he took the action that he thought was necessary to contain the situation."
Long said she brought Hayden to the emergency room in December for a possible mental health emergency. She asked for a hospital security guard to help get him in the building.
"I motioned for the first guard to come out, and when he did I immediately told him that my son needed treatment," she said.
But the guard ends up grabbing him. Surveillance video shows Hayden was shoved twice — hard enough that the teen came out of his shoes. When Long's back was turned, a second security officer appears to tackle Hayden to the ground. The boy stayed there for more than five minutes with both guards on top of him.
Body cam footage shows the guards tased the boy twice. Four deputies with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office then showed up. The boy, handcuffed and with a mouth full of blood, spit at Deputy Justin Polson. Video then shows the deputy punching the boy in the head twice.
A spokesman for Lincoln County Sheriff Bill Beam confirmed Polson no longer worked with the force. Long said Hayden was not seriously injured but is traumatized by the incident.