The Los Angeles Police Department on Sunday released new body cam footage showing an officer tackling a pursuit suspect carrying a 10-month-old baby who suffered a skull fracture.
The incident unfolded around 11:21 p.m. Feb. 11, when gang enforcement officers near 55th Street and Long Beach Avenue in South L.A. spotted a silver Jeep Wrangler with tinted windows “driving erratically,” LAPD Capt. Stacy Spell said in a video released by the department.
When police drove towards the vehicle, the driver sped off and then crashed into a large flatbed truck.
Video shows damage to the Jeep’s side following the crash.
As officers approached, the suspect drove off, kickstarting an 11-minute pursuit, Spell said.
The chase continued until the suspect stopped the car, got out and started running away from the officers.
Officers chased the man, later identified as 25-year-old Josue Huerta, through a park and into a neighborhood.
“I got him, I got him, I got him,” one officer could be heard saying in body-worn camera footage as he ran past the other officers and towards the fleeing suspect.
The officer caught up to the man and “used his bodyweight to take him down to the grass lawn,” Spell said.
The officer yells “Stop! Police! Stop” before tackling the man to the ground, video shows.
As he hits the ground, the sound of a baby’s cry is heard.
“I’m sorry but I’m trying to take him home,” the officer responds as another picks up the child.
Spell said officers didn’t know Huerta was holding a baby.
“Unbeknownst to any officer, the suspect was holding a 10-month-old infant,” the captain said. “Officers were immediately able to pick up the infant and secure him.”
Huerta, who is the infant’s father, was then taken into custody. Police said he was not injured.
The child was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for a small skull fracture to the right side of his head. The infant also tested positive for cocaine and fentanyl, according to LAPD.
He was admitted to the hospital before being released to his mother.
“The cause of the child’s injury has not been determined. However, the incident is being investigated as a categorical use of force incident because the force used cannot be ruled out as the cause of the injury,” Spell said.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore previously told a civilian oversight panel that doctors could not definitively identify the source of the injury, whether it was the result of the tackle, the vehicle collision or something else.
Investigators ended up finding narcotics, three unloaded 9-millimeter gun magazines and a large amount of cash at the scene, according to LAPD.
The L.A. County District Attorney filed several charges against Huerta, including one count of felony child abuse, one count of felony evading, one count of felony possession of narcotics for sale and one count of misdemeanor hit-and-run, Spell said.
The incident is under investigation and the civilian board of police commissioners is set to evaluate the evidence to determine whether the officer’s tactics and use of force met standards.