- Arizona police officers with tactical gear and guns drawn busted down the door of an Arizona couple’s home last month because of a 2-year-old boy with a fever.
- A doctor had previously told the child’s mother to take the child to the hospital, but the parents refused, saying the child’s temperature had gone down and they feared getting in trouble for not vaccinating the boy, The Arizona Republic reported.
- The Chandler Police Department released the officers’ bodycam footage on Thursday, which shows officers trying multiple times to knock on the parents’ door and phone them, until eventually breaking down the door.
- Police said the parents are each charged with one count of child abuse, and the children remain in state custody.
A group of heavily armed police officers in tactical gear broke down the door of an Arizona home last month, entering with their guns drawn and shouting “come out with your hands up!” – all so they could remove a toddler with a fever whose parents refused to bring him to the hospital.
The 2-year-old boy was unvaccinated, and his parents have each been charged with child abuse after refusing to bring him to the emergency room and ignoring doctors’ orders to do so.
The child’s mother, Sarah Becks, had feared bringing him to the hospital because she was worried she would get in trouble with the Department of Children’s Safety for refusing to vaccinate him, The Arizona Republic reported.
The Chandler Police Department released video footage of the breach on Thursday, and said in an accompanying statement that the boy was suffering a “potentially life-threatening fever and illness” and the officers were unable to convince the parents to bring him to the hospital.
“The parents of the child allegedly refused to take their child to the emergency room after being instructed to do so by a physician earlier in the evening,” the statement said. “At the home, officers could hear a child coughing and other voices inside.”
The footage shows the officers ringing the parents’ doorbell, knocking on their front door, and making two phone calls on the evening of February 25. The police can also be seen calling the child’s doctor to ask about his medical condition.
“I talked to the doctors already and they said this could be a possible life-threatening situation. I know you’re saying the fever broke now and he’s feeling better … but we need you to come outside and talk to us,” the officer tells Bryce. “If you don’t come out and talk to us, those kids will be taken away and you guys are going to be in serious trouble.”
‘Next thing we know, the Gestapo is at their door’
But Bryce continued refusing the officer’s requests, saying his son was “doing just fine” and that he was worried about being forced to “go to the hospital and spend $US3,000.”
Finally, at 1:24 a.m., a group of officers broke down the door, kicking it in, and entered the home with their guns drawn and what appeared to be a riot shield, shouting at the parents to come out with their hands up.
A state investigator later said in court that the toddler was eventually diagnosed with RSV, a respiratory virus that typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms but can sometimes be dangerous for young children, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
All three of the couple’s children are now in the custody of the Arizona Department of Children’s Safety.
The parents have told local media outlets they desperately want their children back.
Beck told the local CBS affiliate KPHO that even though the doctor initially found her son’s temperature to be 105 degrees and mentioned the possibility of meningitis, Beck said she noticed the boy’s temperature quickly going down as the day went on.
“We love our children. We love them. If our children needed help, we would absolutely help them,” she told the news outlet. “I told the doctor that I’d bring my son back for her to check and make sure that his fever was lower, and she said she wouldn’t see him, and I had to take him in.”
Some Arizona lawmakers have expressed outrage over the incident, saying there was no need for police to use such a high level of force over a toddler with a fever.
“What about parents’ rights to decide what’s best for their child?” Rep. Kelly Townsend told The Arizona Republic. “Parents felt the child was fine. Next thing we know, the Gestapo is at their door.”
A report the CDC and World Health Organisation published in December found cases of the highly contagious measles disease – which the CDC declared in 2000 was eliminated in the US – surged 30% all across the world last year, fuelled by “gaps” in vaccination coverage.
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