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Daisha Smalls was pumping gas with her one-year-old baby in his car seat in Houston on March 3 when a robbery suspect being chased by police approached her vehicle. Police opened fire on the suspect, killing him and striking the one-year-old baby in the head.
“The person jumped in my car, and the police were right behind him,” Smalls said. “Before I knew what was happening, they were already shooting out my car, and I was just scared for my son’s life.” Smalls said she was sitting inside the vehicle when the man approached her telling her to get out of the car. “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,” said Smalls. She then described that the man sat on her lap trying to take the vehicle. That’s when police say they approached the vehicle telling the suspect to drop the weapon before they fired shots.
Smalls’ attorneys, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, said they are still investigating but a civil lawsuit will be filed soon. “When you shoot into the car you put her life at risk,” said Crump.
The baby was on a ventilator for more than 10 days, Smalls’ attorneys said. “He’s had multiple seizures – over 10 seizires- he’s fighting for his life,” said Crump.
“I was just scared for my son’s life,” Smalls said. “[He] didn’t deserve to be shot, especially not by the police.”
Doctors had to remove part of her son’s skull because of swelling and removed most of the bullet, but there are still some fragments remaining in his brain, Crump said.
Houston Police Chief says officer was trying to help mother and infant
The night of the shooting Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo issued a statement saying officers believed Smalls was being carjacked.
“[The baby] and his young, 19-year-old mother were innocently getting gas when an armed suspect, fleeing from police, attempted to carjack them. Fearing for the mother’s safety, one of our officers discharged his duty weapon,” said Acevedo.
The shooting raises many questions about officer-involved shootings at a time when police departments across the country are under scrutiny.
Why would police open fire next to a pump at a gas station knowing there is explosive liquid all around them? Why would police fire at the suspect when he is sitting on the lap of an innocent bystander? These are questions the Houston Police Department will have to consider going forward.
Many continue to pray for the baby as the community waits for a full recovery.