LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — When California Highway Patrol Officer Jonathan Lee and his fellow officers joined in a Tuesday night pursuit of a spousal abuse suspect who had also reportedly assaulted responding deputies in East Los Angeles, they had no idea there was a baby inside the silver Prius.
“It’s a volatile situation,” Lee said. “You don’t know how it’s going to go, you don’t know how it’s going to end up.”
With his 11-month-old daughter in the car, the 29-year-old suspect flew through downtown and Mid-City — sparks flying from the wheels of the vehicle — before coming to a stop in South Los Angeles.
When the driver got out of the car, he had his daughter in his arms.
“In that particular situation, my fatherly instincts kicked in, too,” Lee said. “Sure, there’s officers’ safety to think of, but thinking of the child’s safety also comes first and foremost at that point.”
Several officers surrounded the suspect with guns drawn, but Lee said he knew he had to deescalate the situation to keep the suspect calm.
“When I was speaking to him, to try to get the child out of his arms, to cater more to the fact that I’m a father as well,” he said. “It’s heart wrenching. It took 100% emotions at that point as well as … just keeping my head on a swivel.”
Lee said the suspect was reluctant to give up his daughter at first, so he decided to holster his weapon and show his hands to let the suspect know they were not going to hurt anyone.
“He just asked me to take care of her, to make sure that she’s safe,” Lee said. “I reassured him, ‘Hey, she’s going to be taken care of, don’t worry about her. We just need you to follow the rest of our commands so we can take care of you as well.'”
Lee said he comforted the frightened child as her father was taken into custody.
“It was a huge relief at that point to know that she’s no longer in line of danger at that particular point in time,” Lee said. “It truly was a team effort.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the child was unharmed and was taken back to her mother. The child’s father is being held on $50,000 bail.