Police ticketed 21-year-old Melissa Farrell after she spanked her child on the behind while trying to keep her from running out into the street during a 4th of July parade in Idaho.
Witnesses signed statements to police saying Farrell went "beyond" a spanking, leading police to cite Farrell for injury to a child which is a misdemeanor that can be punishable by up to a year in jail.
Farrell says she simply swatted the child's rear end after struggling to keep the 22-month-old from running out into the street during the parade being held for the 4th of July in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
According to the police spokeswoman Sergeant Christie Wood, "It's kind of rare that we get people that will write witness statements. For nine witness statements to be written, that's fairly compelling, and the officer felt he should take action."
Farrell disputes the witnesses saying that they were too far away, across the street, to accurately observe what happened and maintains that her child was in no way injured from the spanking.
In another report, this one saying there was eight witness while the article linked above said there was nine, the police via Capt. Ron Clark, says some of the witnesses describe Farrell as having slammed "her on the ground and smothering her as she was holding her" and in this report unlike the other, it claims the police Captain states that the officer who cited Farrell "reported no visible signs of injury to the child."She said she gave the girl a “pat on the butt” to “get her attention” and was mostly holding her with her head against her chest to calm her.
Farrell and her husband Rob, both believe that the police should have spoken to witnesses that were closer and inspected the child for injuries which the parents say are nonexistent.
Melissa Farrell said that after she restrained Laila, a man approached her from across the street and accused her of smacking the child around. She said she ignored him and didn't understand what was happening when an officer approached a few minutes later. She said she was doing what she thought necessary to keep Laila out of the street.
"I think spanking her butt would hurt a lot less than getting run over by a float," she said.
The Farrells gave a press conference asking for witnesses that were closer to them to come forward and Rob Farrell, the husband, states, "They just took these people's sides of the story, and that's it. If there was no injury, there should have been no ticket."
The couple also believe this should serve as a warning to other parents about society and reactions to parental disciplining of children, with Rob making the point, "Are we allowed to discipline our children? … If I was to grab my child, would it be a hostage situation? How extreme do we let this get? We might as well live in a country where we're told how to dress our children, when to feed our children."
The police stand by the citation, offer no response as to whether the officer should have inspected the child for injury or found witnesses closer to the mother and child and say that it is up to the courts now.
The Farrells plan on fighting the citation and filing suit against the police, with Rob stating, "We shouldn't be afraid to be parents and neither should anybody else."
This brings up a couple of questions about what the witnesses saw and described to police. If the witnesses claimed that Farrell was "slamming" the child into the ground and "smothering" her, would the police have seen some type of injury to the child and taken the child from the mother instead of simply issuing a ticket?
If after looking at the child and seeing no physical injury, wouldn't the police naturally have questioned witnesses closer to the scene and inspected the child or made sure a doctor did so?
In the first report, the article makes it clear that Sergeant Christie Wood said that "In some reported child abuse cases, a parent is taken to jail and children are taken by social services agencies. This situation resulted in just a ticket."
If the police believed Farrell caused injury to the child which is what the citation was for, then why just ticket her?