SAVANNAH, Ga. (CN) – Sheriff’s deputies deactivated a device that controls a man’s Tourette’s syndrome and beat him as “a form of amusement” when he could no longer control his physical and verbal actions, the man claims in court.
Charles Ray sued Chatham County Sheriff Al St. Lawrence and jail official Floyd Jackson, in Chatham County State Court.
Ray, 34, suffers from Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and may cause obscene outbursts. He suffers from other physiological disorders as well, according to the complaint.
Ray was arrested in July 2010 on drug possession charges and taken to the Chatham County jail.
At the jail, he says, deputies made him pass through a metal detector that shut down his deep brain stimulator, a battery-operated device that controls his Tourette’s symptoms.
“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 states. “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.”
Ray says he warned the deputies that he could not control himself without the device and his medication, but they ignored him. He says the deputies denied him medication and made no effort to reactivate his device.
“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 states. “He 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 defendant’s deputies, including Officer Floyd Jackson, head of the mental ward, sought to cover up their action by writing false reports that laid the blame on plaintiff, contending that he beat himself against the wall, thereby causing his many injuries.”
Ray says he suffered physical injuries and severe emotional trauma.
He seeks damages for negligence and infliction of emotional distress.
He is represented by Julian Toporek and Richard Darden.
“The lawsuit is under review by our legal department and the internal affairs unit,” Chief Deputy Roy Harris told Courthouse News in an interview. “We are aware of the lawsuit and are taking steps to address it.”