A South Carolina mother was arrested after a video she allegedly filmed surfaced on social media, which police said showed her young child “riding” on the hood of her vehicle as she drove.
Thrista Miquisha Johnson, 26, was charged with felony child neglect earlier this week in relation to the incident, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. She turned herself in on April 28.
Two days earlier, police came across the video in question, which they allege Johnson filmed and later uploaded to her Facebook account.
The clip, which spans roughly 20 seconds, police said, appeared to show the woman’s daughter on the hood of a moving vehicle. The child who “wasn’t strapped” in, had been freely sitting on the car’s hood, while her mother appeared to take a spin around an apartment building, authorities said.
“What we saw in the video was a very small minor child sitting on the hood of the automobile; it appeared to possibly be an SUV,” Lieutenant Michael Chavis of the Rock Hill Police Department told Oxygen.com. “She was right near where the hood and the windshield meet. They were traveling in the apartment complex roadway. They made a couple of turns before the video ended. It was a very brief video but it was long enough that we could recognize what apartment complex it was.”
The child was unharmed in the incident, Chavis stated. Authorities estimated the car had been moving approximately 15 miles per hour at the time the clip was filmed.
When detectives confronted Johnson outside her home while she was taking out her trash, the 26-year-old South Carolina parent allegedly admitted to filming the incident while driving her vehicle and confirmed the child in the video was her 5-year-old daughter.
She appeared to be baffled why authorities had taken an interest in the social media video — and also confessed it was something she had done with her daughter before, police say.
An arrest warrant was subsequently issued for the Johnson.
“Sitting a child on an automobile and traveling on any roadway, any parking lot, is very unsafe,” Chavis said. “We’re talking about a 5-year-old and she could have easily fallen off and the injuries sustained from the impact of hitting concrete, asphalt roadway, could have been severe. We’re thankful that the public saw this and reached out to us.”
Authorities contacted social services following the incident.
Johnson has since been released and was arraigned on Tuesday.
The clip has since been removed from Johnson’s Facebook account. Law enforcement declined to release a copy of the video while the case is ongoing.
Johnson, a single mom and a cashier, regrets the incident but also believes the charges against her have been blown out of proportion.
“I think [the] whole thing was taken way out of context and it was someone who truly hated my guts to go as far as getting the police involved,” she told Oxygen.com.
The 26-year-old described herself as a “free spirit,” and “hands-off” parent.
“I say with confidence that I’m a wonderful mother to my son and daughter," she added. "I’ve stayed with a job, I don’t party, I don’t do drugs. I’m not a criminal."
Johnson said she’s been appointed a public defender. She doesn’t appear to have a criminal history, according to court records.
Such cases are rare, but not unheard of. Last year, an Illinois mother was arrested after police were tipped off that her children had been riding atop the family’s SUV inside an inflatable raft while she drove, according to ABC News. In 2012, a 19-year-old Arizona mom, who was supposedly high, was sentenced to 16 years probation after zooming away while her baby sat in a carseat on her vehicle’s roof, Reuters reported.
If found guilty of child neglect, Johnson could face up to a decade in prison, according to the authorities.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.