The 32-year-old suspect is seen being tackled by law enforcement as a deputy cradles a baby in a sky-blue outfit, according to video released this week by the sheriff’s office.
Deputy Jacob Curby told CNN affiliate WPEC the suspect — who law enforcement identified as John Henry James III — left his car carrying his baby after the pursuit the evening of May 26 and “just turned around, no regard, not a little toss” and “overhand threw this two-month-old at me from about six feet away.”
Curby caught the baby, who was unhurt, the station reported. The sheriff’s office said deputies were “able to relocate the baby to safety.”
The Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating, the sheriff’s department said in a statement posted to Facebook on Friday.
“I’ve seen some crazy stuff but this is definitely up there,” Curby told WPEC.
He added, “It was kind of awkward. I couldn’t chase him. I couldn’t tackle him. Not a whole lot I can do because he had the baby.”
After tossing the baby, James tried to get away and struggled with other deputies who eventually tackled him to the ground, the statement said.
James was checked by EMTs and taken to a hospital after telling deputies he could not breathe and that he has asthma, the sheriff’s office said.
The pursuit started on State Road 60 in Vero Beach, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies tried stopping James for failing to maintain the lane.
But James drove off on a 40-minute chase — at times striking a detective’s vehicle, dodging roadblocks and barreling over tire deflation devices, the statement said.
The number of people in a residential area forced deputies to stand down at one point, according to the sheriff’s office.
A law enforcement helicopter relayed James’ location to deputies, who were able to surround his car at an apartment complex.
In addition to two felony counts of aggravated child abuse, James faces counts of aggravated battery of an officer/firefighter/EMT, felony flee and elude, reckless driving and resisting arrest with violence, according to the booking information on the sheriff’s office website.
James also faces a charge of aggravated battery on a pregnant woman, according to the booking information. The sheriff’s office did not provide details on that charge.
James was medically cleared from a hospital on Tuesday after treatment for what the sheriff’s office said was a pre-existing condition. He was booked and ordered held without bond, according to the sheriff’s office. It’s unclear if he has an attorney.