Teen takes plea deal after Atrium ER assault

Updated: Feb. 17, 2020 at 7:17 PM EST
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LINCOLNTON, N.C. (WBTV) - A 16-year-old boy who was violently assaulted by hospital security guards and then punched in the face by a sheriff’s deputy with his hands cuffed behind his back took a plea deal in juvenile court Monday afternoon.

Hayden Long was taken to the emergency room at Atrium Health - Lincolnton early one morning in December. His mom, Jessica Long, feared her son was having a mental health emergency.

Instead of getting help, her son, Hayden, was tackled to the ground--busting his mouth--was stunned twice with a taser, sat on by two hospital guards and, ultimately, punched by the sheriff’s deputy.

He was arrested and charged with multiple misdemeanors and one felony county of assault on a law enforcement officer.

Video shows Long - who had been bleeding from his mouth after the guards tackled him and sat on top of him - spit towards the sheriff’s deputy as they sat him up.

Previous Story: Video shows teen assaulted by Atrium security, Lincoln Co. sheriff’s deputy outside ER

Long pleaded guilty to one count of simple assault in juvenile court on Monday for spitting on the deputy. He also pleaded to one count of consuming alcohol by a minor under the age 19. Both charges are misdemeanors.

In court, Long’s attorney, Brad Smith, said his client chose to take the plea deal offered by prosecutors over being tried as an adult on the felony assault charge.

Lincoln County District Attorney Mike Miller was in court for Long’s hearing on Monday but did not sit at the counsel table, left the courtroom before the hearing was over and did not come out of the courthouse in the two hours after court a WBTV crew waited to ask him questions.

It is not clear why Miller persisted in considering pursuing the felony assault charge. Nor is it clear whether Miller’s office will call for an investigation into the use of force by the sheriff’s deputy for punching Long in the face.

The deputy, Justin Polson, left the sheriff’s office on Saturday, two days after a WBTV investigation first aired video of the incident.

Previous Story: Lincoln Co. deputy off the job after WBTV investigation into assault on teen

His departure came after Lincoln County Sheriff Bill Beam initially defended Polson in an interview with WBTV.

In court on Monday, Polson told a judge he had to be tested for diseases after being spit on by Long and the test results have not come back, more than two months later.

Polson also said he didn’t think Long needed mental health treatment the night he was at the emergency room.

In court on Monday, Long told a judge he was on antidepressants and had taken his medication that day.

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