Local News

Roanoke Rapids police cleared in use of stun gun on autistic teen

Posted June 19, 2014

— The Roanoke Rapids Police Department has been cleared of any wrongdoing in an April incident in which officers used a Taser on a 15-year-old boy with autism.

The Halifax County District Attorney’s Office determined the officers acted appropriately when they encountered the teen, Javonte “Jay” Gorham, as they searched his home April 5 while looking for his 23-year-old brother, Jamonte Gorham.

The boys’ mother, Nancy Gorham, said she answered the door and told the officers that Jamonte wasn’t home.

She said the officer responded by saying, “You people got a tendency of lying.”

Gorham said she gave police permission to search the home. She said Jay was sleeping when officers entered his room. She walked in to find him face down on the bed, getting shocked with a stun gun.

She said she told the officers that her son has autism and yelled, “He don't know what you're doing to him, doesn't understand nothing you're doing.”

She said Jay wasn’t combative or talking back to the officers. The incident left Jay with scrapes and burns from the stun gun.

Roanoke Rapids City Attorney Gilbert Chichester said the officers “absolutely did not know it at the time” that Jay has autism. Police said Jay was aggressive.

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

Gorham said she has hired an attorney and intends to sue the city.

Javonte Gorham was taken into custody briefly and released. Police later found Jamonte Gorham and arrested him.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • ngorham74 Jun 24, 2014

    I wouldn't never harm my child...... The police was wrong

  • Doseofreality88 Jun 23, 2014

    I see the mother is at fault because she allowed the cops in her home. If this had happened and she refused entrance the same people would be saying "She must of been hiding something if she wouldn't allow them to enter her home." No matter what she would of been at fault. These cops are disgusting. They probably lied and said he acted aggressively because they are usually on a power trip. The whole "You people always lie" ...seriously? let me guess it wasn't a racist statement...*eye roll*

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 23, 2014

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    The mother gave police permission to search the home.

    If you had a child who you knew had special needs and who "didn't understand things"...and the police came to your house looking for someone to arrest, would you have just let these fully-armed, adrenaline-pumped police surprise him in his sleep...in his own bedroom? "Surprise, son! Wake up!"

  • WRAL_USER Jun 20, 2014

    The "officers" should have been put in jail for the rest of their natural lives, Period. More criminal cops encouraged to abuse/kill again by the corrupt "Just-us" system. Sick.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 20, 2014

    Why didn't the mother wake the boy and explain that "cops are here, relax, don't worry, I'll hold your hand"...or just remove him from the house? ...since she seemed to know that he wouldn't understand what was going on.

    This incident (and probably the incident regarding her other child) is on the mother.

  • Cheree Teasley Jun 20, 2014
    user avatar

    A person with autism who doesn't know the people around them will not hesistate to "push" anyone. IT was harmless, and had the officers known he was autistic they may have not shown that level of force. But to them it was a very tall teenager who was pushing them, and perhaps they were there to arrest a family member. They acted in the interest of their safety. Still, I feel very bad for that boy. He could not have possibly understood what was happpening or why. That shot must have been PAINFUL! And, there's no telling how long that tramatic event will effect him. I feel awful for him!

  • disgusted2010 Jun 20, 2014

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    Hate much?

  • Centurian Jun 20, 2014

    It was not the fault of the officers nor was it the fault of the autistic teenager. The abundant blame lies with the mother who consented for police to search the home for a wanted offender while her autistic son (brother of the suspect) was asleep in a bedroom. She was tremendously irresponsible.

  • Bogged Down Jun 20, 2014

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    You have rights so long as the police let you have those rights. It's all spelled out in the Constitution! I know all you police-hating LIBERALS will have a problem with this, but that's the way it is. Deal with it.

  • 68_dodge_polara Jun 20, 2014

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    You should become a cop, I sobering dose of reality would do you some good.