No Charges Against Mom of Boy in Gorilla Exhibit: Prosecutor - NBC Connecticut
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

No Charges Against Mom of Boy in Gorilla Exhibit: Prosecutor

"This is one more step in allowing us to put this tragic episode behind us and return to our normal family life," the child's family says

No Charges Against Mom of Boy in Gorilla Exhibit: Prosecutor
WLWT
A silverback gorilla grabs a boy who fell into its exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday, May 28, 2016.

A prosecutor said Monday that he isn't seeking charges against the mother of a 3-year-old boy who got into the Cincinnati Zoo's gorilla exhibit, which resulted in the shooting of an endangered gorilla to protect him. 

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said the child's mother had three other children with her, and she was attending to them when the 3-year-old "just scampered off" on May 28. 

Deters said the mother's actions were "not even close" to meriting reckless endangerment charges. The Cincinnati police had investigated the family's actions. 

The boy's family said in a statement it had expected the decision and was "very pleased." 

Dramatic 911 Tape From Cincinnati Gorilla Incident Released

[NATL] Dramatic 911 Tape From Cincinnati Gorilla Incident Released
Police released a taped recording on June 1, 2016, of a frantic mother's emergency call after her son fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo on May 29.
(Published Wednesday, June 1, 2016)

"This is one more step in allowing us to put this tragic episode behind us and return to our normal family life," the family said.

Legal experts had said that prosecution on child endangerment or similar charges seemed unlikely.

The zoo plans to reopen its Gorilla World on Tuesday with a higher, reinforced barrier. The boy apparently climbed over the outer barrier before falling some 15 feet into a shallow moat. A special response team shot and killed the 17-year-old western lowland gorilla named Harambe to protect the boy. 

The zoo's role will be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which enforces the Animal Welfare Act. An animal protection watchdog group has urged that the zoo face federal fines. 

The shooting caused a wide outpouring of criticism, blaming the boy's parents or the zoo for the gorilla death. A Cincinnati police spokesman said last week police planned to "reach out" to the boy's mother to advise her of threatening language in some posts. 

The zoo said that there had been no earlier breaches in Gorilla World's 38-year history and that the previous barrier had passed multiple inspections by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which accredits zoos. Zoo spokeswoman Michelle Curley said the outer barrier will now be 42 inches high — a half foot taller than before — with solid wood beams on top and at the bottom, plus knotted rope netting at the bottom. 

Full Video: Gorilla Grabs Boy at Zoo

[NATL-LA] Full Video: Silverback Gorilla Grabs Boy at Cincinnati Zoo
Cellphone video shows the tense moments when a 400-pound silverback gorilla manhandles a young boy who fell into its enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Fearing the boy's life was in danger, a special zoo response team fatally shot the male western lowland gorilla named Harambe. The boy was taken to the hospital and later released.
(Published Tuesday, May 31, 2016)

The mother works at a preschool near Cincinnati. It's not clear if the father was at the zoo that day. 

The boy's family has said he is doing well at home. Police said he had scrapes on his head and knee, but was alert and talking when rescued.

University of Dayton law professor Lori Shaw said earlier that child endangering cases are complicated and fact-specific. She said Ohio law requires that the defendant be found "reckless" and to have exposed a child to "substantial risk," or a strong possibility of harm.

Police released 911 tapes of calls after the boy fell. 

"He's dragging my son! I can't watch this!" a woman says in the 911 call, pleading for help. She shouts at her son repeatedly: "Be calm!" 

A record of police calls shows nine minutes passed between the first emergency call about the boy falling into the enclosure and when the child was safe. 

The police report states that witnesses said the gorilla initially appeared to be protecting the child, but after onlookers started screaming, it became "agitated and scared" and began dragging the child. 

The boy's family has expressed gratitude to the zoo for protecting his life.

   

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS