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North Carolina teen in mental health crisis beaten by hospital security and deputies, suit claims

The teen's mother, Jessica Long, said in the lawsuit that she took her 16-year-old son to Atrium Health Lincoln in Lincolnton for help.

A North Carolina mother said her teenage son was beaten, body-slammed and hit with a stun gun by hospital security and sheriff's deputies after she took him to a medical center for help with a mental health crisis.

The mother, Jessica Long, filed a federal lawsuit in December against Atrium Health, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority and two of its security officers. The suit also names two Lincoln County deputies.

None of the defendants returned a request for comment on Wednesday.

Long said she took her 16-year-old son, who is identified in the court documents as John Doe, to Atrium Health Lincoln in the city of Lincolnton in December 2019 and asked security officers to help get him inside.

The teenager had suffered for years from "one or more psychiatric infirmities" and was experiencing a mental health crisis, the suit states. It alleges that as the mother and son approached the emergency room entrance a security officer "aggressively confronted" them and drew a stun gun.

The officer then wrestled with the teenager, grabbed him by the throat and threw him forcefully to the ground. The lawsuit then accuses the officer of repeatedly using his stun gun on the teenager, burning his skin, and hitting the teenager in the chest with his hand.

A second security officer allegedly came up behind the teen and "suddenly, forcefully, and without warning, slammed his forearm across Plaintiff Doe's unprotected neck and throat area, ripping him to the ground ... so that John Doe's face struck the pavement," the suit reads.

At one point during the incident, the teenager's hands were handcuffed behind his back.

The boy was left bruised and bloodied from the attack, the lawsuit states.

The assault was captured on surveillance video and showed the handcuffed teenager sitting on a curb outside the hospital when a deputy responding to a 911 call for help punched him, according to the suit.

The teen is taken into the emergency room about 45 minutes after he arrived at the hospital with his mother.

The teenager was arrested for assault and other crimes, and later plead guilty, according to The Charlotte Observer. The suit claims that the teenager suffered serious injuries and deals with “persistent psychiatric trauma” over what happened.

The suit lists a broad range of claims against the defendants, including assault and battery, excessive force, false imprisonment, negligence and the infliction of emotional distress. It also accuses them of libel and slander for allegedly making false statements about the incident and the teenager in order to help justify their actions.

In a response to the complaint, attorneys for the security guards, the Lincoln County sheriff's office and Atrium Health denied any wrongdoing and asked that the case be dismissed.