A 10-month-old baby was left with a skull fracture after an LAPD officer tackled his father to the ground last month following a hit-and-run crash and pursuit, and police are reviewing the use of force, authorities said this week.
The incident began around 11:21 p.m. Feb. 11 as gang enforcement officers with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Newton Division were finishing a traffic stop near 55th Street and Long Beach Avenue, said Capt. Stacy Spell, a police spokesman.
The officers saw a silver Jeep Wrangler with tinted windows being driven erratically and moved toward the SUV to monitor it, Spell said.
The Jeep’s driver, later identified as 25-year-old Los Angeles resident Josue Huerta, “became involved in a significant traffic collision with a large flatbed truck,” the captain said.
Officers approached the crash site, but Huerta drove away, beginning an 11-minute chase, Spell said.
In a video released by the LAPD on Monday, in-car camera footage of the pursuit shows damage to the Jeep’s side and rear right tire, which was off its rim by the time Huerta came to a stop, jumped out of the SUV and started running down a path.
Officers can be seen in the in-car camera footage briefly checking inside the Jeep before chasing after Huerta on foot.
Body camera footage shows several officers chasing Huerta on the path.
One of the officers says, “I got him. I got him. I got him,” before passing the others and rounding a corner.
Huerta is ahead, continuing to run away.
The officer calls out, “Stop. Police. Stop,” before tackling him onto a lawn moments later.
“Unbeknownst to any officer, the suspect was holding a 10-month-old infant,” Spell said.
Huerta’s baby can be heard in the body camera video crying after the officer tackled them.
“I’m sorry but I’m trying to take him home,” Huerta cries out as an officer says, “Are you kidding me?”
One of the officers takes the baby from his father before others flip Huerta onto his stomach and handcuff him.
Firefighters examined Huerta at the scene. He wasn’t injured, Spell said.
“The child was transported to a local hospital where he was treated for a small skull fracture to the right side of his head,” the captain said. “The child also tested positive for cocaine and fentanyl.”
The infant was admitted to the hospital for further testing and released to his mother, Spell said. Investigators haven’t determined how the baby was injured.
“However, the incident is being investigated as a categorical use of force incident because the use of force cannot be ruled out as the cause of the injury,” he said.
“We’re still at the very early stages of this investigation, which can often take up to a year to complete,” Spell said.
Investigators found drugs, three unloaded 9-millimeter magazines and a large amount of cash at the scene, he said.
Huerta was charged Feb. 15 with one count each of felony child abuse, evading and possession of narcotics for sale, the captain said. He was also charged with a misdemeanor count of hit and run.