Police: Rock Hill mom pepper sprays son for not saying ‘thank you’

Latoya Hughes-Austin
Latoya Hughes-Austin

A 14-year-old boy told Rock Hill police his mother doused him with pepper spray because he didn’t say “thank you” after she bought him an item at the grocery store.

Police were called to a home on Southland Drive in Rock Hill shortly before 3 p.m. Sunday when the mother told a police dispatcher she had sprayed the boy “to calm him down,” a police report said. The mother then said she left the home on foot, the report said.

A police officer who responded to the house found the child with a cloth to his face who “appeared to be having some difficulty speaking due to the chemical agent,” the report said.

The boy said his mother sprayed him because he wasn’t grateful, the report said.

The mother, Latoya Hughes-Austin, 34, told the officer she had been having “disciplinary issues” with the boy. She said she bought an item from the store “and he became disorderly with her when she scolded him for not saying ‘thank you,’” the report said.

Hughes-Austin said the boy “started cursing and knocking things over in the residence,” the report said. She followed the boy to his bedroom “where she stated she sprayed him with the pepper spray,” the report said.

Hughes-Austin’s mother saw the pepper spray incident and got some of the spray on her while she was trying to calm the situation, the report said. Hughes-Austin’s mother said she did not see the boy yelling, “but just mumbling under his breath while he walked to the bedroom.”

Police noticed the smell of pepper spray in the bedroom.

Hughes-Austin was charged with cruelty to children and taken to the Rock Hill city jail. The incident was reported to the S.C. Department of Social Services.

Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077