Roanoke Rapids police cleared in use of stun gun on autistic teen
Posted June 19, 2014
Roanoke Rapids, N.C. — 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.