Angry, red finger marks curled around my son’s throat. His cheeks were blackened and swollen. A gash ran across his forehead, just below his hairline, tracked with fresh stitches. He was 14.
It was the morning of November 1, 2016 and I’d been called to the highly reputed psychiatric residential treatment facility (PRTF) where my son, Devon, was currently receiving treatment.
I wasn’t allowed to watch the surveillance videos myself, but a representative from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was immediately dispatched to investigate the incident.
After reviewing the footage and interviewing witnesses she told me what happened:
Devon became agitated when several staff members provoked and taunted him. Among other things, he threw items around the room and at staff. He hit one staff –known to Devon as ‘Mr. Myron’– in the face with a small plastic object. Mr. Myron became enraged, pushing Devon onto a bed and punching him in the face. Other staff pulled Mr. Myron back, but released him when he appeared to calm down. Mr. Myron immediately lunged for Devon again. After shoving Devon into a bathroom (out of camera visiblity), Mr. Myron repeatedly slammed Devon’s head against the bathtub and faucet until he was, again, pulled away.
The facts are not in dispute. DHHS has substantiated the allegations. The PRTF has substantiated the allegations.
Kids like my son are in these facilities for a reason. Devon was throwing a fit and his behavior was unacceptable that day. However, staff at these facilities are trained to manage these incidents safely and professionally. Without becoming enraged. Without assaulting and absuing the patients.
Why is Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) charging this as only misdemeanor simple assault.
Felony assault is assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill and/or cause serious injury.
- Devon says, and witnesses corroborate, that during the beating Mr. Myron was screaming, “I’m going to kill you.”
- The bathtub faucet was certainly a serious enough weapon to require 11 stitches.
- Furthermore, consider the power differential between a child and his adult caretaker in a locked psych facility.
It’s been 16 months. Why hasn’t the warrant been served?
Over the weekend I went downtown to the CMPD headquarters to ask this very question. The police officer I spoke to shrugged. “It’s only a misdemeanor,” he said. “We’ll get to it eventually.”
Eventually isn’t good enough. It’s only after 16 months of being forgotten by CMPD that I make my call for action public.
CMPD Case #20161102-1155-01
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