WRAL Investigates

Commission to decide fired Cherry Hospital worker's fate

Posted October 21, 2010

— The State Personnel Commission held a hearing Thursday to decide whether a fired Cherry Hospital worker should get his job back following an altercation with a patient last March.

O'Tonious Raynor says he was protecting himself from a schizophrenia patient with an aggressive past. The hospital says he deserved to be fired for acting irresponsibly.

An administrative law judge overseeing the appeal agreed that Raynor used excessive force but said in his opinion that Raynor should have been suspended, not fired.

The personnel commission will make the final decision in the next 60 days, but the final argument may hinge more on a technicality than what was caught on surveillance tape.

O'Tonious Raynor Commission to decide fired Cherry Hospital worker's fate

The technicality lies in a statement made by the administrative law judge during the appeal. He said some of Raynor's actions were "not justifiable," even though he recommended a suspension. That statement could prevent Raynor from getting his job back.

Raynor says he'll take any job at Cherry Hospital, including housekeeping, so he can support himself and his three daughters, but the hospital wants to cut ties.

"Hindsight is 20/20, but when a guy assaults you and beats you in your face," Raynor said Thursday, his voice trailing off. "He's the reason I wear these glasses now."

A lawyer for the hospital said Raynor was only trying to get revenge.

"There's no room for vengeance in a state hospital against patients who are mentally ill and dangerous to themselves and others," said Charlene Richardson, an attorney for the Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the written record, the altercation began in the overnight hours of March 10 into March 11 when patient Bernard Freeman wasn’t allowed to smoke and punched Raynor several times, injuring his eye. Raynor then pushed the 55-year-old patient down and pinned him against the furniture while standing on his hand, which was in a cast.

The scuffle happened in a common area, and then Raynor dragged Freeman down the hall to the bedrooms – out of view of the surveillance cameras, according to the written account and the tape.

"I didn't intend to hurt the patient. I felt like I was in danger, and I did the best I could under the circumstances," Raynor said. "He told me, 'When I get up, I'm going to kill you.'"

The Department of Justice looked at the case and never pursued any criminal charges. Raynor remains on worker's compensation for his eye injury.


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  • bluedishes500 Oct 22, 2010

    It appears to me that the tech was sleeping.....

  • Internet Hate Machine 2 Oct 22, 2010

    Where do they come up with these names?

  • johnstonredneck Oct 22, 2010

    These employees are taught how to properly restrain a patient until help arrives.

    When I worked in various inpatient mental facilities, I had to restrain patients on more than one occasion.

    I was taught the proper techniques so that neither I nor the patients safety was an issue.

    This employee needs to be handed his walking papers.

  • penelope1 Oct 22, 2010

    mulecitybabe...I agree with you. Prison guards are allowed to have full body gear when restraining prison inmates but an employee can't protect themselves in a mental health setting; when a lot of the patients are dangerously mentally unstable and some are violent inmates. These folk that said he should be fired should put themselves in this man's position and see what they would do; stand there and be beaten to death. I don't think so.

  • lizlizardrn Oct 22, 2010

    What is the choice-he should be fired!

  • mikeyfree20 Oct 22, 2010

    i agree with the other comments!!

  • Grandaddy Oct 21, 2010

    Give the man back his job and with a raise. What was he supposed to do? Just sit there I guess and let the patient beat him to death with a cast

  • mulecitybabe Oct 21, 2010

    This patient assaulted a man who would have had the right to defend himself anywhere but at his workplace. He suffered a permanent injury to his eye, probably when he was hit by the patient's hand that was in a cast. This patient has a history of aggression to the point that he was not allowed to remain with the other patients because he might hurt one of them. He has also served time at Central Prison.

    But the staff at a state mental hospital are supposed to contain this man without the proper support to prevent injury to themselves or him. Until this state quits sending this type of patient for treatment, these incidents will continue. As for his mother's comments that the actions by the staff were unwarranted, why doesn't she take her baby home and treat him like she wants him treated? Yep, that's what I thought.