LOS ANGELES (WHDH) — When California Highway Patrol officers joined in the pursuit of a spousal abuse suspect who had also reportedly assaulted responding deputies in East Los Angeles on Tuesday night, they had no idea there was a baby inside the silver Prius.
The 29-year-old suspect drove at high speeds through the city with his 11-month-old daughter in the car before his vehicle became disabled.
The suspect stepped out of his car with his daughter as officers surrounded them with their guns drawn.
Officer Jonathan Lee says he knew he had to deescalate the situation to keep the suspect calm.
“In that particular situation, my fatherly instincts kicked in too,” he said. “Sure there’s officer’s safety to think of, but thinking of the child’s safety also comes first and foremost at that point.”
Lee described trying to convince the suspect to hand over the baby.
“I was speaking to him to try and get the child out of his arms to cater to the fact that I’m a father as well,” he recalled. It’s heart-wrenching. It took 100 percent emotions at that point, as well as keeping my mind, just keeping my head on a swivel.”
The suspect was allegedly reluctant to give up his daughter at first, so Lee decided to holster his weapon and show his hands to let the suspect know that they weren’t going to hurt anyone.
This tactic worked and the suspect gave Lee his daughter.
“He just asked me to take care of her, to make sure she’s safe,” Lee said. “We reassured him she’s going to be taken care of. We just need you to follow our commands so we can take care of you as well.”
Lee comforted the frightened child as the father was taken into custody.
“It was a huge relief at that point to know that she’s no longer in the line of danger at that particular point in time. It truly was team effort,” he said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says the child is back with her mother.
The child’s father is behind bars on a $50,000 bond.
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