LYNNWOOD — A nanny camera captured a man strangling a toddler in a crib for over a minute until the child went limp, according to police reports filed in Everett District Court.
Police were tipped off about the video Monday, when a man arrested in an unrelated burglary case in Mukilteo told a police sergeant he’d seen a video of a man choking a young child. He named a woman he believed was the child’s mother, and assumed the man in the video was the child’s father. It turned out that the suspect was actually the woman’s friend.
According to an investigation by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, the mother had been watching her nanny cam while in the bathtub earlier this month, when she saw her friend, 29, doing something to the child in a dark room, at her home outside of Lynnwood city limits. She shouted that someone needed to check on the girl. Residents confronted the man, who claimed he’d just been hugging and kissing the child. They checked on the girl and saw no obvious outward injuries. Only later, when they reviewed the saved video, did they come to believe he had been harming her, according to the police reports.
Another man in the home reported to a sheriff’s deputy that the suspect apparently kept turning off a camera that monitored the crib. Residents figured out how to keep power supplied to the camera, in spite of that. Footage stamped “08:02:40” and “7/18/2020” recorded the man bending over the crib toward a young girl covered in a blanket. He put his left forearm across her neck, and began “manually strangling or possibly smothering the child at that time via downward pressure from above,” a sheriff’s deputy wrote.
The child kicked her legs with increasing force, “in obvious distress,” the report says. The kicking decreased gradually. The man relaxed, and then began choking her again. He grabbed a brown object — perhaps a stuffed animal or a piece of fabric — and smothered the girl’s face with it, followed by more choking using both hands, until her “hand fell rapidly as if the child were limp, potentially being rendered unconscious.” Then he suddenly stopped and left the room.
The video was emailed to police. Later, deputies learned the footage had been brightened, and its speed had been doubled, meaning the apparent assault lasted twice as long as officers originally thought. In real time, the entire incident went on for about 2 minutes. The longest continuous stretch of alleged choking was 62 seconds, according to the deputy.
Roommates kicked the man out of the home because of the video, but didn’t call police out of fear that Child Protective Services would get involved, according to the deputy’s report. Police learned the suspect had moved to a mobile home just down the street. He was found and arrested almost immediately on Monday.
Police reports note the man has at least two children of his own.
An examination of the child at a Providence clinic showed swelling in her upper lip, a red spot on the left eye and bruises to both shins. The report says it’s unclear how she got those injuries. Child Protective Services took custody of her.
The sheriff’s office circled back to the original tipster in jail. He reportedly told the deputy he was “high at the time and that he barely remembered what transpired.” He claimed he didn’t recall disclosing anything about the video, and refused to speak further about it with police, according to the sheriff’s office.
The assault suspect has a history of misdemeanors relating to drugs and driving. He has also been convicted of three home burglaries, but never a violent offense.
An Everett District Court judge found probable cause to hold the man in the Snohomish County Jail on a pending charge of second-degree assault of a child. The judge set bail Wednesday at $500,000. He remained behind bars Friday.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.