Society

Police Use Taser on Autistic 15-Year-Old Boy, Avoid Punishment

| by Jonathan Wolfe

The Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina police officers who used a stun gun on a 15-year-old autistic boy while he was sleeping in his bed were cleared of any wrongdoing by the local district attorney last week.

The special needs teenager subjected to the stun gun is Javonte “Jay” Gorham. His mother, Nancy Gorham, recounted to local news station WRAL what happened on the night police came to her home.

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Police came to Gorham’s home looking for her older son, Jamonte Gorham. Gorham told officers that her elder son was not home, but they did not believe her.

“You people have a tendency of lying,” Gorham recalls the officer saying. She then gave police permission to search her home.

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The officers went through each room, and eventually entered a room where teenager Javonte Gorham was sleeping. For reasons unknown, police used a stun gun on the autistic teenager before bending him over his bed and handcuffing him. 

Nancy Gorham walked in on the incident and pleaded with the officers to stop.

“He don't know what you're doing to him,” Gorham told the officers. “[He] doesn't understand nothing you're doing.”

Police arrested Javonte and questioned him. He was released to his mother several hours later.

Despite the seemingly obvious use of excessive force, the Roanoke Rapids district attorney’s office cleared the involved officers of any wrongdoing.

City attorney Gilbert Chichester said the officers “absolutely did not know at the time” that Javonte had autism.

“[Javonte] partially stood up and pushed one of the officers,” Chichester claims. “It is my understanding that the officers, the Roanoke Rapids police officers that were involved in this, acted appropriately according to all the guidelines.”

Nancy Gorham told WRAL that she plans to hire an attorney and sue the city. 

Sources: WRAL