LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — A Lincoln County mother is outraged after she said a hospital security officer and a deputy assaulted her 16-year-old son outside Atrium Health-Lincoln.
Jessica Long said she tried to get her son help at the hospital by taking him to the emergency room last December. She said her teenager was having a mental health crisis.
“He wasn’t in his right state of mind at the time and that’s why I was at the hospital,” said Long.
She told Channel 9 that her son didn’t want to go into the hospital and that she had her younger son in the car. In the video, Long motions for the security guard to come over.
“Shock, anger,” said Long. She still can’t believe what unfolded on the security video that her lawyer was able to obtain.
“He (her son) was angry with me when he got out of the car. He pushed me," she said. "It didn’t deter me from trying to get him help. I wasn’t afraid of him. He didn’t hurt me. He was being disrespectful.”
That’s when things escalated with the security guard. The video shows the guard push her son to the ground twice and then pull out a Taser.
Her son then walked back to the car and another security guard tackled him from behind.
“He was simply standing there,” said Long.
A few minutes later, Lincoln County deputies arrived.
“I was still thinking these men will help,” said Long. "Their goal will be to help me help my son, and they didn’t do that.”
Long said her son was Tased several times. While the teen was handcuffed with blood running down his face, deputies said he spit at one deputy.
In the video, a deputy, identified as Justin Polson, then punches the handcuffed teenager twice before another deputy stopped him.
Polson said he became the victim when the teen spit blood in his face.
He told a judge Monday he had to be tested for several communicable diseases and the tests still aren't over.
“I wasn’t able to hold my kids. I wasn’t able to kiss my wife,” Polson said.
“That was full-blown rage,” said Long.
Another camera shows Deputy Polson having to be restrained by another deputy.
“I admit striking him one time. I threw two punches, did not make contact with the second,” Polson told the judge.
The teen made an Alford plea Monday to simple assault and underage drinking. The plea means he insisted he was innocent and admitted that the prosecution has enough evidence to prove he is guilty.
“I didn’t see any sort of investigation into why a very, very young person is lying face down on the ground in his own pool of blood with two very large men sitting on top of him,” defense attorney Brad Smith said.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Deputy Polson is no longer an employee as of Saturday. Authorities haven’t said if Polson was fired or resigned. He was with the Sheriff’s Office for eight months.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s office initially said in a release, “The juvenile cursed the officer and spit blood in his face, which is a felony. Deputy Polson reacted by striking the juvenile on the top of the head. The incident was investigated, and Deputy Polson was disciplined internally for his actions.”
Atrium Health released a video in response to the event, claiming the 16-year-old was making threats.
“Security was trying to deescalate the situation, but the threats were escalating. And when someone makes a threat about getting a gun and shooting and killing people, the officers did what was appropriate to contain a situation,” said Maureen Swick, the administrator over the hospital’s security division.
“They are twisting things around and saying he was threatening to kill everybody,” said Long, who claims that was not the case.
Atrium Health also defended the security guard who appeared to tackle the minor.
“He was afraid that the individual is going to get back into the car. They didn't know if there was a weapon there. They did, I think, act appropriately. Unfortunately, the young man did get injured, which we never want to see in any incident or event,” said Swick.
“They obviously weren’t equipped to handle it,” said Long.
The teen is facing half-dozen charges, including a felony.
Long said she tried to do the right thing and get her son help.
“They always say, ‘Reach out if you’re having a mental health crisis,’” she said.
Now she wishes she hadn’t taken him at all.
“When you actually go to do it, I took him to an emergency room, and he was treated like a criminal by everybody. Nobody ever treated him like a patient,” said Long.
The Long family have not said if they plan to sue the department or the hospital.
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