Police responding to a call about a possible kidnapping arrested an Oklahoma City couple on complaints of child abuse.
Reports say a witness called police on September 15 to report that she was following a vehicle after seeing someone grab a child and "yank him into the car."
As police caught up to the vehicle, they reportedly saw a male driver reach into the back of the car and hit a child several times, using a "hammer fist" to strike the boy.
Police pulled over the vehicle, and found a young boy in the back seat of the car. They say the boy was crying and apparently injured. According to an arrest affidavit, the child had a "swollen bloody nose, swollen bloody lip, and what appeared to be black eyes coming in."
Officers then questioned the driver, identified as Antonio Reed, 40. As they questioned him, the boy called the man a liar. Immediately, police say, the female passenger in the vehicle, 33-year-old Tamicca Jones, hit the child in the presence of officers.
Both Reed and Jones were arrested on child abuse complaints.
Oklahoma law in 10A O.S. § 1-1-105 defines child abuse as "harm or threatened harm to the health, safety, or welfare of a child by a person responsible for the child's health, safety, or welfare, including but not limited to nonaccidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation. Provided, however, that nothing contained in the Oklahoma Children's Code shall prohibit any parent from using ordinary force as a means of discipline including, but not limited to, spanking, switching, or paddling."
While state law allows "ordinary force" in the form of "spanking, switching, or paddling," if a child is left with visible injuries--such as the swollen, bloody nose and lip and black eyes referred to in the above case--the parent or caregiver will likely be charged with abuse.
The state criminal code prescribes punishment for child abuse in 21 O.S. § 843.5. Under this statute, child abuse is "the willful or malicious harm or threatened harm or failure to protect from harm or threatened harm to the health, safety, or welfare of a child under eighteen (18) years of age by another, or the act of willfully or maliciously injuring, torturing or maiming a child under eighteen (18) years of age by another."
It is punishable by a maximum of life in prison.