KEY POINTS

  • Hayden Long, 16, was brought to Atrium Health in December by his mother, Jessica Long, for an alleged mental breakdown
  • Hayden reportedly got into an altercation with hospital security, which escalated further when local police arrived to arrest him
  • Hayden pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and underage drinking in juvenile court

North Carolina police faced backlash for a surveillance video released Tuesday showing several officers tackling and tasing a teenager outside a hospital in Lincolnton.

The incident reportedly occurred in December when hospital security and Lincoln County Sheriff's deputies confronted Hayden Long, 16, outside Atrium Health. Hayden had reportedly been brought to the hospital by his mother to deal with a “mental health crisis” when he got into the altercation.

He was subsequently arrested and faced multiple charges from the altercation, including felony assault. Hayden appeared in juvenile court Monday and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and underage drinking.

Hayden and his mother, Jessica Long, met by a security guard outside the emergency room entrance. Long reportedly asked for help to get Hayden inside.

“I motioned for the first guard to come out, and when he did I immediately told him that my son needed treatment,” Long told reporters.

The guard grabbed Hayden’s arm and shoved him to the ground as Hayden reportedly yelled at him. The guard then prepared to tase Hayden when Long tried to jump between the pair.

“I jumped in the middle because the guard was getting ready to tase him, and I was telling him, ‘No, don't tase him!’” Long said.

Hayden was tackled to the ground by another security guard. The two reportedly held Hayden on the ground and tased him twice to get him under control. He was handcuffed and sat on the curb while the four waited for police to arrive.

Four deputies from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office arrived and tried speaking with Hayden when he reportedly made threats towards the officers and hospital. He then spit blood into the face of Deputy Justin Polson, who responded by punching Hayden in the head.

Lincoln County Sheriff Bill Beam defended Polson’s actions, saying “spitting blood in a law enforcement officer's face is a felonious assault” and said Polson “had a right to stop” Hayden. However, a spokesperson confirmed Monday Polson was no longer working for the sheriff’s office.

Atrium Health also defended the actions of the guards in restraining Hayden for the alleged threats he made.

“He kept saying to the officers that he had a gun and he wanted to shoot people,” Maureen Swick, Atrium Health's senior vice president and system nurse executive,  told reporters. “So, he took the action that he thought was necessary to contain the situation.”

Long said Hayden was not seriously hurt but had been traumatized by the incident. She said she won’t seek help from Atrium Health in the future.

“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,” Long said.

Emergency Room sign Heartburn is often mistaken for a heart attack because their symptoms are largely similar. Pictured: A police vehicle sits outside of Mercy Hospital. Photo: Getty Images/Scott Olson