© Reuters/Eric Thaye
A Georgia man that suffers from Tourette's says that police deactivated a device that controls his symptoms and then beat him for their own amusement. He is suing Chatham County Sheriff officials for negligence and infliction of emotional distress.
Charles Ray, 34, says Sheriff's deputies near Savannah, Georgia ignored his pleas and then purposely attacked him after he was arrested in July 2010 on drug possession charges.
Upon being brought to the Chatham County jail for processing, Ray alleges that he warned officers that passing through the facility's metal detector would deactivate the battery-powered deep brain stimulator that helps him control the symptoms of Tourette's. If the device does not work, Ray is prone to uncontrollable tics and obscene outbursts typical with the neurological disorder.
"Upon being transported to his cell, plaintiff advised the sheriff's deputies which were escorting him that he should not go through the scanning device as it would affect the batteries in his Tourette's device and render it useless," the complaint, filed this week, reads. "The deputies did not heed plaintiff's warning and forced him to go through the scanning device, which in fact did turn off his Tourette's device and cause the symptoms of Tourette's to evidence themselves, including jerking of his arms and legs, facial tics and other neurological actions which evidenced a lack of control on plaintiff's part."
After the device was deactivated and Ray was at the mercy of the disorder, he says that the cops repeatedly harassed him and beat him as "a form of amusement."
"After the metal detector turned the battery off that charged the electrodes for the brain mapping, the plaintiff could not control his physical and verbal actions and the deputies ignored his protestations, and when he failed to control himself, he was beaten," the complaint continues.
Attorneys for Mr. Ray say that their client was tied to a chair "and made to stay there for hours without benefit of food, water or bathroom privileges."
"While abusing the plaintiff by beating him and kicking him, the deputies considered it a form of amusement and laughed at his protestations," the complaint reads, adding that the officers assaulted the plaintiff "by beating him with their fists and kicked him while he was restrained."
The lawsuit alleges that, after the incident, the head of the mental ward attempted to cover up the attacks by writing a false report. Instead of admitting to wrongdoing on the part of law enforcement, the internal papers instead suggested that Mr. Ray "beat himself against the wall, thereby causing his many injuries."
Ray's attorneys, Julian Toporek and Richard Darden, are suing the head of the mental ward - Officer Floyd Jackson - as well as Chatham County Sheriff Al St. Lawrence.
When asked to comment by Courthouse News
, Chief Deputy Roy Harris said the department is aware of the lawsuit "and are talking steps to address it."
When approached by the Savannah Morning News
after the lawsuit was filed, Sheriff St. Lawrence tells the paper that he was initially unaware of the allegations and, if received written charges, would "just turn it over to the county attorney like I always do." According to a 2000 article published in The Augusta Chronicle
, Officer. St. Lawrence was previously named in a suit filed in a wrongful imprisonment charge.