I-TEAM: How did mental health call end in stun-gun death?

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 6:21 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 30, 2022 at 6:34 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Our I-TEAM is learning new details about an incident between Richmond County deputies and the man they were called to give a mental evaluation to.

That incident would turn deadly after a deputy used her Taser on him.

Deputies were called to Nelson Graham’s home for a court-ordered mental health evaluation when deputies said he was not cooperating. After the Taser was used, Graham was hospitalized and later died.

We received a copy of the incident report from the family that shows what police say happened on Dec. 16 at his home on George Road.

Initially, we received information from the sheriff’s office saying Nelson became combative and resisted deputies. His family is saying those words don’t paint the entire picture of what happened.


Nelson, 33, is described as a gentle giant by his family.

“He was a father and a loving man, peaceful,” said Denzel Graham, brother.

Graham was a father to eight children, with a love for cutting hair and creating tattoos.

“I don’t know how getting help ended up here, knowing my brother and the kind of person he was,” he said.

The incident report paints the scene of when deputies met with Nelson at his home.

On Dec. 16 at 10:15 p.m., Richmond County deputies Kevin Clarke and Madisen Emerson were dispatched to Nelson’s home for a 10-13, a court-ordered mental evaluation.

According to the report, his wife, Christina Graham, called the mobile crisis hotline because no one responded to the 10-13 she filed on her husband, and Nelson was “behaving erratically.”

Clark and Emerson found him sitting in his bedroom with his arms folded over his chest. His family says he was sitting on the foot of his bed.

The report reads deputies determined he would need to be taken out of the house and transported. That’s when deputies grabbed Nelson’s folded arms, trying to unfold them to put him in handcuffs.

He began “passively resisting”, not giving his arms up to deputies.

Tiasha Houston is Nelson’s cousin. She said, “I’m on the foot of my bed with my arms folded. Should that cost me my life?”

That’s when Nelson and the deputies ended up on the ground. He brought his arms up under his chest on the ground, they say verbal commands were ignored and Emerson activated her Taser, releasing a single cartridge with no effect.

They tried to detain him, but he kept his arms covered. Emerson then deployed her second Taser, which still showed no effect.

The report states Emerson “drive stunned” him several times; where the Taser was put into his body and they were able to put him in handcuffs.

Deputies gave verbal commands for Nelson to stand up and got no response from him. They moved him to the living room, where he was given CPR and Narcan. Graham passed away six days later in the hospital.

“My brother had no violent bone in his body. He was never aggressive to anyone he ever came in contact with,” said Denzel.

His family says if mental health resources were there, Nelson would still be alive.

“We got to draw a line where something has to change, obviously because we can’t keep having young men die for no reason due to mental health,” said Denzel.

We’ve reached out to the sheriff’s office for the use of force reports and training for both deputies. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more about this case.