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Bloomington man over-medicated at state mental facility

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BLOOMINGTON (HOI) -- A state investigation confirms the allegations from a McLean County woman, that her son was over medicated while in state custody. The mother also claims her son was abused at that facility.

Four years and almost $70,000 later, Lavonte Rayford and his mother, LaTasha Rayford, said they were failed by the system.

"I felt like I was fighting giants, I was going to fight until there was no breath left in my body," said LaTasha Rayford.

Lavonte Rayford has epilepsy. In 2017 he was prescribed Keppra, having about 260 seizures in two years while taking it.

LaTasha Rayford said doctors did not see the medication as a problem.

"My son is not a guinea pig. He should not be given different types of medications to make him worse," said LaTasha Rayford.

Lavonte Rayford and doctors said the medications made him act out, which led to five felony charges between 2018 and 2019.

He was deemed unfit to stand trial in McLean County. However, another doctor said he was fit to stand trial and should have been released from jail. The state though, would not allow it.

So, instead, Lavonte Rayford was sent to Chester Mental Health Center in August 2019. Within 10 minutes of his arrival, Lavonte Rayford said he was choked by staff because he did not want to take off his towel headwrap, which he was used in the county jail to cover burn scars.

That meant his mother, LaTasha Rayford, would not see him until days later.

"He was visibly shaking, in his arms, lips his hands…his tongue was blue and purple looking and he was really dark, very frail," said LaTasha Rayford.

After a state investigation by the Human Rights Authority, it found Lavonte Rayford was over-medicated for no apparent reason.

"Some people need to explain themselves. People need to explain their actions," said LaTasha Rayford.

The five felonies were dropped by the prosecutor back in March, but the family said the damage was already done.

"It shouldn't have to cause anyone a substantial amount of money or all the time that I invested in trying to clear my sons name," said LaTasha Rayford.

"She said she was fighting giants, I said you didn't know you were a giant," said Lavonte Rayford.

Chester Mental Health has not responded after Heart of Illinois ABC reached out for comment.

Paige Blanzy

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