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Police investigating north Spokane parents of 3-month-old who showed signs of shaken baby syndrome

UPDATED: Thu., July 20, 2017, 10:23 p.m.

Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Childrens Hospital photographed from the air, Oct. 8, 2015. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Childrens Hospital photographed from the air, Oct. 8, 2015. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Police are investigating the parents of a baby who hospital workers say was “violently” shaken and is now likely brain-dead.

On Friday, Spokane police officers were called to Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital on a report of a 3-month-old child with severe brain trauma. Upon arrival, they interviewed the baby’s father, who police say was “immediately hostile and began to video tape” the officers on his cellphone, police wrote in a recently filed search warrant.

The boy’s father told police that he woke around 10 a.m. to the baby crying and straining to defecate, police wrote. He said he went outside to work on his cars and when he came back in at around 11 a.m., the baby was still crying. He said he asked the boy’s mother to feed the baby, hoping it would get him to sleep.

The father then told police that the boy’s mother took the baby into the bedroom to feed him, but then started screaming. He went into the room and found the baby halting in his breath, with eyes rolled into the back of his head and his body rigid, court documents state. He told police he shook the baby “fairly hard” to revive him, not paying attention to see if the baby’s head was moving around.

According to the boy’s father’s account to police, the shaking worked, and the baby started breathing again. That’s when they drove him to Providence Holy Family Hospital, where the baby was taken by ambulance to Sacred Heart.

But in a separate interview, the baby’s mother told police that when she called the father into the kitchen to make a bottle, she could not see him the whole time. She said it was as she was coming back into the living room that her baby’s crying changed, worsening immediately. She told police that she did not see what the boy’s father was doing when the crying changed.

While interviewing medical staff, police learned that the baby showed a “subdural hemorrhage” on the right side of his brain and retinal hemorrhages in both eyes so severe that they were almost detached from the brain. Police wrote that doctors said these injuries “can almost only happen as a result of a violently shaken child.”

According to court documents, doctors said it was likely the baby would be impaired for the rest of his life and likely would suffer from vision problems or complete blindness.

A search warrant, which was made public Thursday, asks for permission to search the couple’s residence in northeast Spokane.


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