In Houston, a 1-year-old boy has been in the intensive care unit since early March after being shot in the head by Houston police.
Daisha Smalls —the baby’s mother— and her attorneys said that the incident is the latest example of police shooting an unarmed Black person.
In a news conference, Daisha said she was pumping gas when she saw police cars and sirens on March 3. She said she was sitting inside the car when a man approached and told her to get out of the car while her 1-year-old boy, Legend, was in the backseat.
“I wouldn’t give him my car because I let him know that I have a child in my car and that I would not leave my car without my son,” the mother said, describing that the man then sat on her lap and tried to hijack her car.
The police then shot into her vehicle, killing the suspect on top of her and injuring Legend when a bullet entered his head, Daisha’s attorney, Ben Crump said.
“I was just scared for my son’s life,” Daisha said. “[He] didn’t deserve to be shot, especially not by the police.”
Attorney Crump said that Legend’s injury is life-threatening and that the doctors had to remove a part of his skull because of brain swelling. While they successfully removed the bullet, there are still fragments in the baby’s brain.
“He’s had multiple seizures, over 10 seizures. He’s still fighting for his life,” Crump added.
Antonio Romanucci —Crump’s co-counsel— said they are still investigating but that “you can anticipate a lawsuit being filed shortly” because of a violation of the Houston police’s mission statement.
The incident is the latest example of an officer-involved shooting making national headlines. The death of George Floyd at the hands of police sparked weeks of protests across the country and the parts of the world, leading to a variety of reforms, from political to social.
Houston Police Department Executive Assistant Chief Troy Finner said that Daisha was not in the car the night when the man allegedly hijacked it earlier this month. Finner added that seeing he had a gun, the officers told the suspect, who was 30 and the suspect in two armed robberies, to drop the weapon.
The man allegedly refused, and an officer fired several shots at him, Finner said on March 4. The suspect, whose name has not been released, died at the scene.
Finner said he thinks the police officer did not know that the 1-year-old was in the car.
“Fearing for the mother’s safety, one of our officers discharged his duty weapon, fatally striking the suspect,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a statement posted to Twitter Tuesday. “Sadly, baby Legend was also struck. Officers at the scene immediately rendered first aid to Legend.”
“We are hoping and praying for the full and speedy recovery of little one-year-old Legend Smalls,” Acevedo added.
ABC13 reported that the clerk at the gas station that there is a surveillance video of the shooting. Crump said body camera footage has not been given to the attorneys, but he is calling for authorities to release it.
“Why would they shoot knowing she was in the car? Not knowing who else was in the car. There could have been children, there could’ve been others in the car, but they shot,” Crump said.
“Regrettably and tragically, little Legend will live the rest of his life with the consequences of their decision to shoot into his mama’s car even though they knew she was in there.”
Crump added he looked forward to having conversations with the Houston Police Department and with the city of Houston.