Houston, TX – The mother of a 1-year-old boy who was accidentally shot in the head by Houston police, says her son is “fighting for his life” and struggling to breathe.
Daisha Smalls’ attorney, Ben Crump, gave details of the tragic incident at a news conference Tuesday. According to Crump, Smalls had just got back in her car after pumping gas at a Chevron gas station on March 3 when she heard sirens and saw police cars.
Police were chasing a suspect who they say was involved in two aggravated robberies. When the car the suspect was driving hit a curb and became disabled, he jumped out of the car and ran to Smalls’ car, Crump said.
According to Crump, Smalls was sitting inside her car with her son in the back seat of the vehicle when the man approached the car, gun in hand, and told her to get out.
Smalls screamed and told the man her baby was in 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,” Smalls said through tears.
The man then opened her car door and sat on top of Smalls trying to put the car in gear, Crump said.
According to Crump, Smalls and her child were still inside the car when Houston police opened fire. The suspect was shot and killed while still sitting on top of Smalls.
“Before I knew what happened, they were already shooting at my car and I was just scared for my son’s life,” Smalls said.
Smalls was not injured, however one of the officer’s bullets struck her son in the head.
Houston police had a different version of the events. According to a statement released on March 4 by Executive Assistant Police Chief Troy Finner, Smalls was not inside the vehicle when the shooting took place.
HPD Executive Assistant Chief Finner provides an update on officer involved shooting at Southwest Freeway and Beechnut https://t.co/0l4eyBMEuF— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) March 4, 2021
Crump said Houston police shot into the car knowing Smalls was still inside.
“We’re going to talk about the issues surrounding the Houston Police Department shooting into the car of an innocent Black woman who was just pumping gas. And they knew she was in the car. If they try to say they did not know that the baby was in the car, well, they at least knew she was in the car. You saw the videos. It’s well lit. You saw how close they were. She’s screaming at the top of her lungs but they still shoot anyway,” Crump said at the news conference.
Police issued a statement Tuesday stating again that the officer involved in the shooting believed Smalls was being carjacked.
“Fearing for the mother’s safety, one of our officers discharged his duty weapon, fatally striking the suspect,” Police Chief Art Acevedo said. “Sadly, baby Legend was also struck. Officers at the scene immediately rendered first aid to Legend.”
Attorney Antonio Romanucci, who is also representing Smalls, said, “The objectiveness is that there are innocent people in the line of fire, and we know that you do not shoot unless you know what your target is.”
During his initial statements released on March 4, Finner said he was not sure whether officers at the scene knew the baby was in the car.
According to Finner, the officer who fired the shot that struck the child is a 15-year veteran of HPD who is “deeply concerned” about the baby and his mother. He has been placed on administrative duty while the investigation continues.