Anna and Alex Nikolayev with their baby, Sammy. (Photo: Facebook/Bring Sammy Home)
A California couple had their five-month-old baby "snatched" by police after they took the infant to get a second opinion on a medical procedure, they claim.
Anna and Alex Nikolayev are described as loving parents who took their baby, who has a heart murmur, to Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento when he started exhibiting flu-like symptoms. The family has undergone plenty of doctor visits in the last five months for the their son's heart, and were unsettled by the treatment he was receiving.
At one point, Anna says, a nurse came in and started giving the baby, named Sammy, medicine. When she asked what it was the nurse allegedly replied, "I don't know."
"I'm like, you're working as a nurse, and you don't even know what to give to my baby...?" Anna said in an interview with ABC's local affiliate, News10/KXTV.
They later found out that medicine was antibiotics, which Anna claims the doctor told her Sammy shouldn't have received.
After doctors started discussing heart surgery, the Nikolayevs decided they wanted a second opinion. They weren't categorically opposed to the procedure, but they wanted a different doctor.
"If we got the one mistake after another, I don't want to have my baby have surgery in the hospital where I don't feel safe," Anna explained.
Anna Nikolayev and her son Sammy. (Photo via News10/KXTV)
(Photo via News10/KXTV)
The doctors at Sutter Memorial allegedly argued against consulting other health experts, pressuring her to stay put. Anna remained firm. She took her baby from the hospital without a proper discharge, and went straight to Kaiser Permanente Hospital.
Doctors there said the baby was safe to go home with his parents, one writing in the paperwork: "I do not have concern for the safety of the child at home with his parents."
But while they were at the hospital, police showed up.
"They told us that Sutter was telling them so much bad stuff that they thought that this baby is dying on our arms," Anna recalled. But when police saw the doctor's evaluation, Anna says they said, "Okay guys, you have a good day," and left.
But the family wasn't at peace for long.
The next day police showed up at the Nikolayev's home with representatives from Child Protective Services (CPS). Alex went outside to meet them, where he says he was "pushed against the building." When he asked if he was being placed under arrest, he said they "smacked me down onto the ground [and] yelled out, 'I think I got the keys to the house.'"
Seeing the scene outside, Anna set up a camera in front of her door.
Video shows police letting themselves in without a warrant, and taking the baby.
"I'm going to grab your baby, and don't resist, and don't fight me okay?" one officer can be heard telling the mother in the video.
Anna described it with tears in her eyes: "He's like, 'okay let your son go,' so I had to let him go, and he grabbed my arm, so I couldn't take Sammy. And they took Sammy, and they just walked away."
Anna Nikolayev set up a camera before police came in. (Photo via News10/KXTV)
News10 has video of the incident in its report (there's also an interview with the family):
A number of news agencies have reached out to police, the hospital, and child protective services, but none has spoken out on the issue. News10, which has worked on the story at length, says police and the hospital both referred questions to Child Protective Services, which said it can't comment on specific cases because of privacy laws.
Anna says she was told by a CPS worker that her baby was taken because of "severe neglect."
The couple can't believe the rationale, saying: "We did everything...We went from one hospital to another. We just wanted to be safe, that he is in good hands."
"It seems like parents have no rights whatsoever," Alex said. Originally from Russia, he said the situation reminds him of a "communist regime."
The couple's attorney, Joe Weinberger, remarked: “It’s absolutely amazing to me how a government can reach out and snatch a child after a doctor said there’s not an issue...As we’ve seen, there is no emergency situation in this case...I can’t imagine having my baby ripped from my arms.”
He acknowledges that the couple erred in taking their baby from Sutter Memorial without a proper discharge, but it has now been roughly two weeks since the situation began. Anna says she was able to visit her baby for an hour last Thursday.
A court date has been scheduled for today, Monday April 29. TheBlaze will keep you posted as the story develops.