On Sunday, police said the reason a couple was not arrested after leaving their baby in a vehicle for just under an hour was due to claims of it being allowed in their culture; but on Monday the Corpus Christi Police Department clarified, saying they misspoke.
Officers said the parents told them they were from Saudi Arabia and that it was normal in their culture to leave their children in the car. Police said they were practicing cultural sensitivity in terms of waiting to make an arrest, but on Monday they said that was not the reason.
It all started with a cell phone video that first made its way around Facebook. It showed an officer locating a baby left inside a van at the Starplex movie theater. Officers said they discovered it was an eight-month-old girl and she was left inside for 46 minutes before her 29-year-old father and 17-year-old mother came out with their other four-year-old child. They told police it is normal behavior in Saudi Arabia, which is where they are from.
"We didn't do a good job on your news story the other night. We didn't do a good job of explaining that," CCPD Lt. Chris Hooper said. "We should not have released the offenders alibi to y'all. We shouldn't have done it, but we did."
Police said Monday they are not buying that excuse, and what the parents did is definitely illegal; but police said the officers in the field determined the child was not in immediate danger after speaking to the parents.
Child Protective Services is now involved in the case and police said the parents are facing child abandonment and child endangerment charges, which means they could face up to two years in jail and pay up to a $10,000 fine.
While the department does strive to be understanding of all cultures and backgrounds, they misspoke on this case.
"I teach multiculturalism in the police academy," Hooper said, "but in no way do their values from another country or their cultural idiosyncricies afford them the right to break laws in our country."
Police said they did let the 29-year-old father know that criminal charges could be coming.