The mother of a 1-year-old boy who was accidentally shot in the head by a Houston police officer this month said her son remains in intensive care.
Daisha Smalls was pumping gas March 3 when police officers chasing a robbery suspect shot into her car and injured her baby, Legend Smalls. The suspect, who was killed, jumped into Smalls' car, and an officer feared that he was trying to carjack her, Houston Executive Assistant Police Chief Troy Finner said.
"My son didn't deserve this," Smalls said Tuesday while speaking about the incident with her attorney, Benjamin Crump.
Legend, who was in his car seat at the time of the shooting, had to have the right side of his skull removed, his mother said.
"He still has bullet fragments in his head, and he's in intensive care," Smalls said. "And I just want my baby to be safe. ... I just want him to recover."
Legend was on a ventilator for more than 10 days and has had multiple seizures, Smalls' attorneys said. Part of his skull was removed because of brain swelling from the bullet.
Smalls was in her car when the suspect tried to get in and demanded that she give up the vehicle. Knowing Legend was inside, she refused, Smalls said.
"The person jumped in my car, and the police were right behind him," Smalls said. "Before I knew what [was] happening, they were already shooting out my car, and I was just scared for my son's life."
Crump, a civil rights lawyer, accused police of putting Smalls, the child and others in danger by shooting the suspect. Even if they were unaware that Legend was in the car, the officers knew Smalls was inside, Crump 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," Crump said. "And clearly the Houston police did not know their target, because they hit Legend squarely in the skull. Not a graze wound."
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."
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) March 16, 2021
The case is being investigated by the police department's internal affairs and special investigations units, and the county district attorney is conducting a separate inquiry. Acevedo said the investigations were procedural and customary.
The officer who fired his weapon is on administrative duty, which is also standard procedure, Finner said the day after the shooting. The officer was "deeply concerned" for Legend's well-being, Finner said.