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A Texas baby is now struggling to breathe on his own after he was shot in the head by police while they fired their weapons while in pursuit of an armed robbery suspect earlier this month.
On March 4, investigators began trailing a black Mercedes Benz which they said they believed was being driven by a suspect in an armed robbery, Houston Police said in a press release.
After a short police chase, that car “became disabled” at a gas station, they said.
“The suspect then exited his vehicle, with a pistol in his hand, and attempted to carjack a nearby citizen by forcing his way into the driver’s seat of the citizen’s vehicle,” police wrote.
The motorist was Daisha Smalls, 19, who had been at the station fueling her car, KTRK in Houston reports. Her one-year-old son, Legend Smalls, was in the backseat of the vehicle.
“Officers surrounded the vehicle and began to give verbal commands to the suspect to drop the pistol and show his hands,” police wrote. “The suspect failed to obey the commands of officers.”
Smalls claims she was in the driver’s seat at that point and that the suspect sat on top of her. At a press conference, the young mother said that she screamed to police that she wouldn’t exit her vehicle because her baby was inside.
One officer then “discharged his weapon more than one time, striking the suspect,” police wrote. The suspect, who has not been publicly identified, died at the scene.
Police wrote on Twitter that the officer had fired the shots into Smalls' vehicle while “fearing for the mother’s safety” on Tuesday.
Baby Legend was struck by one of the officer's bullets — police later noted in their press release that he “sustained a wound to the head." While Houston police have said Legend was transported to the hospital in “stable condition,” a lawyer for the Smalls family says his situation is dire.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who recently advocated on behalf of George Floyd's family, said at a Tuesday press conference that the baby is in the pediatric ICU, as KTRK reports. He said that baby Legend had to have part of his skull removed to stop his brain from swelling.
"What will be his quality of life after having a bullet removed from his brain and having part of his skull removed to release swelling?" Crump asked. "Little Legend will live for the rest of his life with their consequences."
While police stated at a press conference earlier this month that they don’t think the officer who shot at the car was aware of the baby, Crump is arguing that the officers at the very least knew his mother was inside.
"They knew she was in the car, but they still shot anyway, knowing a Black woman was in the car," he said. "Her life matters."
A Houston police officer told Oxygen.com over the phone on Thursday that the department would not be commenting directly on the situation as an investigation is ongoing.
The department wrote that they “are hoping and praying for the full and speedy recovery" in a tweet.
"My son has been fighting every day for his life," Daisha Smalls said this week. "He's struggling to breathe on his own. My baby didn't deserve it. I miss my son. I want him to be back the way he used to be."
Crumb said at the press conference that he will be trying to obtain body camera footage from the police. He did not immediately return Oxygen.com’s request for comment on Thursday.
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