On Feb. 11, a Saudi family in Texas went inside a local movie theater while they left their infant in the car. A bystander happened to walk past the vehicle when they spotted the girl sleeping inside the car seat of a 1999 Toyota minivan, Lt. Chris Hopper told Caller Times.
KIIITV reports authorities found the 8-month-old baby the minivan at the Starplex movie theater and called the locksmith to help get the child out. Police say the girl was sluggish, so they requested medics to check up on the baby.
The cops and theater management worked together to identify the child’s parents. The girl’s mother, 17, and her father, 29 walked out of the theater with their 4-year-old daughter. Although the child was unharmed, Corpus Christi police and Child Protective Services are investigating the parents of the baby girl.
“The family is from Saudi Arabia and had an address in San Antonio. They told officers that in their country it is fine to leave a kid inside a vehicle,” Hooper said. “But that is not the reason why officers did not make an arrest.”
After looking through the surveillance footage, authorities determined that the 8-month-old was left in the car for about 45 minutes.
“The officer will look at the parent and look at their condition, are they under the influence? Are they angry? Are they emotionally distraught?” Hooper said. “The officer will also look at the parent’s ability to understand what they’ve done and the amount of the danger they’ve put their child through.”
Authorities are still debating whether or not to arrest the parents, but note, “The family is from Saudi Arabia, and they said that this is culturally acceptable for them, that it’s normal,” say police. The parents could potentially face child abandonment and endangerment charges.
“It is up to the officer and the officer’s discretion to look at the situation and decide whether or not an arrest will be made,” Hooper said. “But because an arrest was not made at the scene does not mean it is not being investigated as a criminal offense.”
In 2016 the Corpus Christi police department answered to 25 similar calls of child abandonment and endangerment, but only five arrests were made, according to Hooper.
Sources: KIIITV, Caller Times / Photo credit: Kanisha N. Jose Lara/Facebook via KIIITV