In December 2019, Jessica Long brought her son Hayden to Atrium Health-Lincoln in Lincolnton, N.C., to get medical attention. The mother said she motioned for a security guard to help take in the teenager, who had reportedly been treated for mental illness. Surveillance footage shows the guard grabbing Hayden and shoving him twice, so hard that the teenager’s shoes come off.
“I jumped in the middle because the guard was getting ready to tase him, and I was telling him, ‘No, don’t tase him!'” Jessica recalled.
A second guard then tackles the teenager from behind, and both guards stay on top of him. According to CBS, body cam footage reveals that the security officers tased Hayden at least twice.
“They just immediately went for full-blown physical force,” his mother said. “And these were big guys, and my son’s, what, maybe 120 pounds.”
Officers with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office later arrived at the scene. Video shows Hayden, who is already handcuffed, spitting at Deputy Justin Polson with a mouth full of blood. Polson then allegedly punches the teenager twice in the head.
Though Polson was ultimately relieved of his duties, the sheriff’s office had previously defended his actions.
“Spitting blood in a law enforcement officer’s face is a felonious assault, and he had a right to stop that assault from occurring,” a spokesperson for Bill Beam, Lincoln County sheriff, said at the time.
Officials with the hospital also said they didn’t believe the security guards were at fault.
“He kept saying to the officers that he had a gun and he wanted to shoot people,” Maureen Swick, senior vice president and system nurse executive at Atrium Health, said. “So, he took the action that he thought was necessary to contain the situation.”
The teenager’s mother, however, strongly disagreed.
“No one is being held accountable except for the 16-year-old who was at the hospital for help, and the trained adults – who should have been able to handle the situation and help – made the whole thing entirely worse,” Jessica said.
While he was reportedly not seriously injured from the incident, Hayden is now facing four charges, including felony and malicious conduct, according to CBS.
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