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article imageBail reduced for CA man caught on camera punching child in face

By Megan Hamilton     Apr 12, 2015 in Crime
Bakersfield - The $1 million bail for a California man who was captured on video punching a toddler in the face has been reduced to $20,000 and he was released on Saturday.
Justin Whittington, 23, was arrested Friday on a charge of child endangerment after he allegedly struck the child in the face hard enough that the little boy fell back on the floor, The Independent reports.
CCTV cameras filmed him chasing the boy through a local store Thursday. When the boy stopped, he raised his arms and the video shows Whittington lunging forward, appearing to punch the toddler. Then he grabs the boy's shirt, pulls him to his feet, and pushes him away.
A pregnant woman who's believed to be the child's mother and Whittington's partner, Crystal, can be seen taking the hand of the crying toddler, who holds the other hand up to his injured face. She walks out of the market while Whittington heads in the opposite direction, the Independent reports.
Store employees posted the video online, The Raw Story reports, and it wasn't long before the video went viral. It now stands at nearly 1,300,000 views.
A viewer, Chris Danaher, contacted KERO-TV, and as the video quickly spread, police began searching for Whittington and arrested him.
"His wife or girlfriend or whatever is clearly pregnant," Danaher said of the woman in the video. "And she had no regard for it. She picked up her son and left the store."
"That was horrible, man," Harry Dindral, owner of the store, told The New York Daily News. "The worst thing I've ever seen."
Dindral recognized Whittington and said he'd been in the store before. Dindral was in the back of the store when an employee ran back there and urged him to watch the horrifying assault captured by surveillance video.
"It was the right thing to do," Dindral said. "You don't hit a child like that."
Reports are conflicting as to whether or not the child is Whittington's son, but Dindral said Whittington is the boy's father, per The New York Daily News.
Police credit the video with helping them to arrest Whittington.
The New York Daily News reports that medical personnel examined the little boy at his home but decided that he didn't need to be hospitalized, police said.
Natalie Rubio, a juvenile corrections officer at Bridges Academy, a court school, says she knew Whittington, and said he had a history of violent behavior.
She recalled an incident in which Whittington's girlfriend at the time came to her and said that Whittington was "very angry and very violent."
When Rubio viewed the video online, she immediately remembered his past. She was disappointed that he has continued the cycle of abuse.
"They kind of get an addiction to the abuse," she said. "So when the chaos is not in their life they don't know what to do.
Whittington was initially charged with Willful Cruelty to a Child, but it was amended to Child Endangerment after an investigation by the Bakersfield Police Department. His bail was reduced from $1 million to $20,000 on Saturday, said Kern County Sheriff's Office Commander Steven Hansen, KERO reports here.
Whittington posted bond around 4 p.m., and was scheduled to be released shortly after.
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