Atrium Health security guards beat teen having mental health crisis, lawsuit claims

A North Carolina woman is suing Charlotte-based Atrium Health over a December 2019 incident in which hospital security guards allegedly beat her teenage son who was experiencing a mental health crisis, reports The Charlotte Observer.

Jessica Long brought her 16-year-old son to Atrium Health Lincoln hospital in Lincolnton and asked security guards to help her get him inside the hospital. The federal lawsuit, filed in December 2020, claims the security guards and Lincoln County (N.C.) Sheriff's deputies tasered, beat and body slammed the teenage boy, leaving him handcuffed outside the building. 

The interaction occurred just after midnight on Dec. 8, 2019, and is captured in surveillance video from hospital cameras. The boy was taken to the emergency room about 45 minutes after he arrived at Atrium Health Lincoln.

The lawsuit names Atrium Health, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, two security officers and two deputies as defendants, according to NBC News. The suit accuses the defendants of assault and battery, excessive force and false imprisonment, among other claims. 

In February 2020 comments to CBS affiliate WBTV, Atrium Health and Lincoln County Sheriff Bill Beam said the guards acted appropriately and claimed the teenager was being physically and verbally abusive. The teen pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors of simple assault and consumption of alcohol by a minor after the incident. One deputy has also filed a counterclaim accusing the boy of spitting blood in his face.

The U.S. Attorney's Office closed an investigation into the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office and said it did not find sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges against one deputy involved in the incident.

A spokesperson for Atrium Health shared the following statement with Becker's: "The U.S. Attorney's Office has closed its investigation, finding no criminal violations of federal civil rights laws at Atrium Health Lincoln. With litigation pending, and out of respect for the process, we look forward to sharing more about our position in court."

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