HOUSTON, Texas — A 1-year-old boy remains in a pediatric intensive care unit two weeks after a Houston police officer shot him in the head while pursuing an aggravated robbery suspect.
The toddler, Legend Smalls, had to have part of his skull removed to relieve the swelling in his brain following the March 3 incident, according to Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing the boy’s mother, Daisha Smalls.
Crump and Smalls spoke at a press conference Tuesday, where the mother said her son has been fighting for his life every day.
"My baby didn't deserve it. My baby didn't deserve to get shot, especially not by the police," Smalls told the media.
The Houston Police Department says its officers were in pursuit of a robbery suspect when the shooting happened. During the pursuit, police say the suspect lost control of his vehicle, the car crashed, and it became disabled at a gas station, where Smalls was filling up a vehicle.
According to police, the suspect then exited his vehicle with a pistol in his hand and attempted to carjack Smalls, who was nearby, by forcing his way into the driver’s seat of her vehicle.
Officers surrounded the vehicle and say they began to give verbal commands for the suspect to drop his firearm and show his hands, but he didn’t listen.
“Fearing for the safety of the citizen and her 1-year-old child, who were both still in the vehicle, one officer discharged his weapon more than one time, striking the suspect,” police said.
In the gunfire, the toddler in the back seat of the vehicle sustained “a wound to the head,” according to police. He was transported to an area hospital, where he remains.
The suspect’s injuries were fatal, and police say he was pronounced dead the scene.
In a statement on Tuesday, the police department said it’s “hoping and praying for the full and speedy recovery of little 1-year-old Legend Smalls.” Chief Art Acevedo wrote that he and his executive assistant chief also personally went to the hospital to check on the toddler and meet with his mother.
Police also said the case is being investigated by the department’s special investigations unit, as well as the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which is customary in officer-involved shootings. KTKR also reports that the officer who fired the shots has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.