A video recently released by the Chandler Police Department in Arizona shows the moment an unvaccinated 2-year-old boy is rescued from his parents by a team of armed police officers.
The incident, which happened on February 25, saw officers arrive at the home of the boy, before being forced to break down the door to remove the child against his parents' wishes.
The boy had become ill and was running a worrying fever, which his parents had taken him to the doctor for earlier that day. After the doctor saw the boy's condition and temperature of 105°F, he believed he could be suffering from a "life-threatening condition" and urged the parents to take him to the hospital, NBC News reports. The mother had said that the child was unvaccinated, and the doctor feared it could be meningitis, which requires urgent medical treatment.
However, the parents returned home instead, fearing repercussions for not vaccinating their child. The doctor found out later that evening that they hadn't made it to the emergency department, and rang the Department of Child Safety (DCS).
Police arrived on the scene and heard a child coughing, as well as other voices inside. The police had a court order for temporary custody of the boy, which can be obtained when there is an imminent risk of harm to a child.
After initially refusing to talk to the police, the parents told them in a phone call to go away and that the child was fine.
"After consultation with detectives from the Chandler Police Department's Special Victims Unit, the residents were given a final opportunity to exit and take their child to the hospital," the Chandler Police Department said in a statement.
"Upon their failure to do so, the front door was breached by patrol officers and the family members were called out of the residence."
The police entered with guns drawn and handcuffed the father, Brooks Bryce. Inside the home, the police found two more ill children (aged 4 and 6) who were also suffering similar symptoms including vomiting. They also found the home was in "total disarray" and the children's bedroom was covered in "stains of unknown origin", according to a police report seen by NBC News.
The Department of Child Safety also took temporary custody of the two additional children. Two were taken to the hospital by ambulance, whilst a third was taken by the DCS. The 2-year-old was admitted to hospital and later found to have RSV, AZ Central reports, a common virus that leads to cold-like symptoms in older children, but can be more serious in younger and more vulnerable children.
A lawyer for the parents told NBC in a statement that the parents have "a fundamental, Constitutionally protected right to the care, custody, and management of [their] Children. These rights do not evaporate simply because the Department of Child Safety believes they know better."
The police department is seeking a charge of child abuse against both parents.