Chandler, AZ – An Arizona lawmaker is demanding a review of child protective services and police procedures, after officers forced entry into a couple’s home to rush their sick toddler to an emergency room (video below).
The 2-year-old boy’s parents, Sarah Beck and Brooks Bryce, ignored a doctor’s urgent recommendation to get the child to an emergency room to help combat his 105-degree fever, WTVR reported.
Representative Kelly Townsend said that the incident was “scary” and “frightening” – not because toddler’s parents refused to get him medical help, but because Chandler police ultimately broke down the front door of the home after three hours of negations with the parents failed.
“That was excessive,” Townsend said of the forced entry. “If you make the parental decision to wait ’til the morning to get medical care, you risk losing your child.”
The incident began on Feb. 25, when Beck took her 2-year-old son to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe for multiple symptoms, which included a 105-degree fever, The Washington Post reported.
Concerned that the boy was suffering from a potentially life-threatening illness, the doctor urged Beck to get him to the emergency room so he could be tested using methods not available at the naturopathic clinic.
But Beck resisted, and said she was afraid she would be reported to the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) because her son was not vaccinated.
The doctor confirmed with the emergency room that they would not make a report to DCS in such a situation, and Beck agreed to get her son help.
The doctor also asked the emergency room personnel to let her know when Beck arrived with the ill little boy, The Washington Post reported.
But Beck never showed up.
At about 6:30 p.m., Beck called the naturopathic clinic again, and said that her son started “acting normal” and was “dancing with his sisters in his car seat” after they left, so she decided not to go to the emergency room, The Washington Post reported.
She also claimed her son’s temperature had dropped, but the doctor still insisted that it was best to take the toddler to the emergency room.
Beck then asked the doctor if it would be okay to lie to the hospital personnel about her son’s vaccination status, and the doctor told her it would not.
She also warned Beck that she would have to report her to the DCS if she didn’t get help for the little boy soon.
The doctor attempted to follow up with Beck in the hours that followed, but she would not answer her phone.
After calling multiple hospitals as a last-ditch effort, the doctor placed a call to DCS.
At approximately 10:30 p.m., Chandler police were dispatched to the 1600-block of West Marlboro Drive at DCS’s request.
The officers were attempting to conduct a welfare check on the little boy, who they were told “was suffering a potentially life-threatening fever and illness,” the Chandler Police Department (CPD) said in a press release.
Officers were also told that the child’s parents “refused to take their child to the emergency room after being instructed to do so by a physician” multiple times that same evening, the agency noted.
When officers arrived at the residence, they could hear a child coughing and people speaking inside.
“The parents initially refused all attempts at contact,” the CPD said. “The father, during a brief telephone conversation with officers, said the child was fine and told the police to leave.”
Officers repeatedly tried to negotiate with Bryce and Beck “through doors, through windows, by telephone, and with assistance of neighbors,” a police report read, according to WTVR.
Meanwhile, DCS obtained a court order giving them temporary custody of the ill little boy, the CPD said in the press release.
Officers continued to try to get Bryce to come out and talk to them, but he ultimately told him that he wasn’t going to take his kid to the hospital to be saddled with a “three grand” bill, The Washington Post reported.
Finally, after three hours of pleading, coaxing, and warning failed, patrol officers breached the front door at 1:30 a.m., the department said.
The agency also noted that the officers who entered the home were not SWAT officers, despite multiple media reports to the contrary.
Even after they took the door down, the officers remained outside the residence for nearly two minutes, and requested that someone come to the door, bodycam footage showed.
Bryce finally wandered over to the front door, and was placed in handcuffs without incident.
Moments later, officers called out to Beck, and she came to the front door with the little boy in her arms.
Officers then entered the residence, and located two other children, ages four and six, WTVR reported.
Officers found the home in disarray. Piles of clothes and items scattered around the home made it difficult to move about the residence, and officers located an unsecured shotgun next to the bed in Beck and Bryce’s room.
“We located the other two children in their bedroom which was covered in stains of unknown origin,” one officer wrote, according to The Washington Post. “The children advised us they had vomited several times in their beds and had stains around their mouths. One child told me that their ‘stomach hurt.’”
DCS took temporary custody of all three children, and they were transported to the hospital, police said.
The toddler was ultimately hospitalized.
Beck and Bryce were both charged with child abuse, WTVR reported.
Their attorney, Nicholas Boca, said the officers’ behavior was unwarranted, and that they traumatized the entire family.
“They had their guns drawn and they’re busting into a house with three sleeping children,” Boca told The Washington post. “It’s ridiculous.”
“This type of force should be reserved for violent criminals, not a house filled with young sleeping children,” he said, according to WTVR. “[Beck] has a fundamental, constitutionally protected right to the care, custody, and management of her children…These rights do not evaporate simply because the Department of Child Safety believes they know better.”
Anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists have rapidly spread a warped version of the circumstances of the children’s removal, and claimed that authorities were stealing people’s children, according to Patheos, a website that discusses religious issues.
“Almost immediately discussions broke out that Arizona DCS was kidnapping unvaccinated children to sell them into foster care,” the website said. “Many said that unvaccinated children are highly in demand because they are incredibly healthy. Several discussed an Arizona ‘kidnapping cartel.’”
Townsend said that she is concerned that the event permanently traumatized the couple’s children, and said the entire situation was “a complete miscarriage of justice and a shame to the State of Arizona,” The Washington Post reported.
“The imagery is horrifying,” she told The Arizona Republic. “What has our country become that we can tear down the doorway of a family who has a child with a high fever that disagrees with their doctor?”
Townsend claimed that if the toddler’s illness was actually a medical emergency, DCS wouldn’t have had time to obtain a court warrant to get custody of him, The Arizona Republic reported.
“What about parents’ rights to decide what’s best for their child?” she railed. “Parents felt the child was fine. Next thing we know, the Gestapo is at their door.”
In a Facebook post, Townsend noted that Beck is nearly nine months pregnant with another child.
“I have great concern that DCS will also take this infant over a misdiagnosis by the Dr., who thought the child might have meningitis, when actually he had RSV,” Townsend wrote. “The parents were correct, the doctor was wrong. However, all 3 children are now in state custody over this, and as soon as this baby is born I suspect they will take that child as well.”
Touting her “Master’s in Infant Family Practice,” Townsend declared that Beck’s unborn child has been irreparably damaged by what occurred.
“I know well that this will permanently damage the baby and inflict an attachment disorder on him or her,” she said. “I call on DCS to immediately return the children who are also being traumatized due to this misdiagnosis.”
DCS said they cannot comment on the case due to confidentiality requirements, according to multiple news outlets.
You can watch bodycam clips from the three-hour standoff in the video below: