"I'm pregnant," yells an unseen woman, surrounded by police officers, moments before one of the officers is seen throwing down his fist. The woman, Deanna Jo Robinson, says she was 38 weeks pregnant when she was arrested and punched by a Hunt County sheriff's deputy on March 4. The event was captured by a video surveillance system installed in her parents' home.
The officers were there to take away Robinson's 18-month-old baby. Robinson, an Air Force veteran, told WFAA that she and her husband had gotten into a shoving match several days earlier. Robinson says she took her baby with her to her parents' home shortly after the fight, leaving behind her husband and his three children.
On March 3, Child Protected Services
visited the father and took away his three kids, following a tip they got about the fight from one of the kids' teachers. The next day, the Hunt County sheriff's officers showed up to the home where Robinson was staying and said they were there to take away her son. She refused to let them in without a court order, she says. (Under Texas law, a CPS caseworker can take away a child without a court order if they persuade a judge the child is in "immediate danger".) Robinson was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and assault on a public servant. The charges, if true, still wouldn't explain why an officer there to protect a child would punch a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy.
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In a Facebook post, Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks describes the video as "an internet allegation" and says he will investigate:
I have become aware of an internet allegation accusing one of my deputies of improper actions. I have initiated an administrative investigation to determine if any policy violations occurred. Public confidence and trust in the Sheriff's Office is a high priority for me and we take all allegations of misconduct seriously. We will allow the investigation to run its course in a manner which is fair to all concerned and we will make no assumptions or guesses until all facts are determined. Additional information will be released as appropriate and the results of our investigation will be made public upon conclusion.
Robinson gave birth several weeks later and says the infant is healthy and in the care of her parents, but Robinson's elder baby and three stepchildren remain in state custody. "The only thing I can confirm here is that four children from that household are currently in temporary CPS custody by court order," says a spokesman from the Texas Department of Family Protective Services.
Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.