The Chandler Police Department in Arizona has released new details regarding their overnight raid to seize three kids from a home because of a toddler's fever last month. The children's parents are speaking out, too.
What are the details?
Arizona's Department of Child Safety and the CPD have been accused of overreach after police used SWAT-style tactics to enforce a court-ordered temporary custody notice and take a couple's three children — which was prompted by the parents' refusal to take one of their kids to the emergency room in accordance with a doctor's orders.
On Feb. 25, Sarah Beck took her 2-year-old son, Heber Bryce, to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine clinic in Tempe, where the attending physician, Dr. Bain (as revealed in a video released by police), determined the child had a fever of 105 degrees, KTVK-TV reported. Bain, fearing the child might have had meningitis, urged Beck to take Heber to the emergency room.
Beck agreed but changed her mind after re-taking Heber's temperature in the car and discovered it had dropped to 102 degrees. Once at home, Beck said, her son's temperature had dropped even further. She called the doctor to explain her reasoning, but again agreed to take the child at the physician's prompting.
After three hours went by, the hospital called Dr. Bain to inform her Heber never showed up and Beck wasn't answering her phone. So, the doctor called Department of Child Safety, which subsequently called the police. By the next day, Heber and both his siblings landed in separate foster care placements after the Chandler Police Department knocked down the door to their family home, guns drawn, to enforce DCS' wishes.
Surveillance footage released by Heber's father, Brooks Bryce, showed the police officers' use of force to take the children. After the story went viral, the CPD revealed their side of the story.
What did the police say?
In a Facebook post Thursday, the department released a statement explaining that after several attempts to speak face-to-face with Beck and Bryce, "The residents were given a final opportunity to exit and take their child to the hospital. Upon their failure to do so, the front door was breached by patrol officers (NOT SWAT) and the family members were called out of the residence."
The police posted footage of them knocking at the door of the home at 10:43 p.m. After that, Officer Tyler Cascio is shown leaving a voicemail for Bryce and calling Bain. Officer Cascio asks Bain to give him a "rundown" of what she was concerned about regarding Heber's condition, but the footage cuts out her response.
Officers are then shown purportedly making a second attempt rapping on the door at the Beck/Bryce home at 11:42 p.m. saying "we just need to talk" with no answer. Ten minutes later, according to the police video, Officer Cascio reaches Bryce via telephone. Bryce told the officer he'd be "doing fine" were it not for the "banging on my door while my kids sleep."
Bryce went on to assure the officer that Heber was "doing just fine, his fever's broke, he's under 100 degrees, he's doing just fine."
Officer Cascio explains, "Well, we need to see it for ourselves," to which Bryce responds, "No, you don't need to."
After refusing the officer's request to speak outside, the father says, "No, thank you."
Officer Cascio again approached the door just before midnight and gave Bryce two options.
"You either come out here and talk to us so we can figure out how to get your kid to the hospital, or DCS is going to take temporary custody of your kids," the officer said. "I'm giving you the opportunity to come out here and just talk to me."
Cascio reiterated, "We're not leavin'."
In a second phone call between Cascio and Bryce, the father asks, "Do you have a warrant to take my kids?"
The officer responds, "We have DCS here that's going to take temporary custody of your kids if you don't come out and talk to us. You're making this way more worse than it needs to be."
"No," the father responded. "My kids are fine. You guys are making it way worse than it is."
Officer Cascio then asked what Bryce's reservations were about coming outside to speak with the police, to which Bryce said, "You aren't going to force me to go to the hospital and spend three grand on an emergency room visit right now," insisting that Heber's fever had broken and that the child would be taken to the hospital if his condition worsened.
Cascio then told Bryce that if he didn't comply, "Then, those kids will be taken away and you guys are gonna be in some serious trouble," adding that the father knowingly defying the doctor's orders could be a felony charge.
The officer reiterated that the welfare of Heber was what authorities were concerned about, and the dad's explanation that his kids were not in danger was "not gonna fly."
Police stormed the family's residence around 1:25 a.m. the next morning, knocking down the door with guns drawn, handcuffing Bryce, and transferring all three children into the custody of DCS.
The CPD said their "Special Victims Unit conducted a follow-up investigation and found probable cause to charge each parent with one count of Child Abuse," with their report noting messy conditions in the home and an unsecured firearm inside.
How did the parents respond?
Bryce told the Arizona Republic that officers' concerns over their kids' alleged messy room was due to "laundry on our couch," and a shotgun noted in the police report "actually is inert — it doesn't work."
The father insisted police overreacted as if "we're holding our kids hostage or they're deathly ill or barely alive."
He said of his children, "They were perfectly fine. [Heber] was in my arms, sleeping. As I'm on the phone with the police officer I took his temperature; it was 100 degrees. There's no reason for me to give up my kid because he has a temperature of 100 degrees and sleeping."
He told the Republic, "We love our children and are doing everything possible to get them back to us."
When Heber was admitted to the hospital by DCS, he was found to have a respiratory virus, according to the Republic. The child did not have meningitis.
No charges were filed at the time. But police said detectives will follow up to determine if there are any criminal charges to pursue against the parents.