Police investigating the tragic death of an Atlanta toddler apparently left alone for hours in a hot car by his father have raised the possibility that the tragedy may not have been an accident.
Justin Ross Harris, 33, was supposed to drop his toddler, identified in reports as Cooper, to daycare around 9 a.m. Wednesday but instead went straight to work, apparently forgetting the boy was strapped in his car seat in the back of the vehicle for seven hours.
Police already hold Harris responsible and have charged him with murder and cruelty to children in the first degree, but inconsistencies in his story have led police to openly question if what the Home Depot employee is saying is true.
‘Much has changed about the circumstances leading up to the death of this 22-month-old since it was first reported,’ Cobb County Police Sgt. Dana Pierce told CNN.
‘I’ve been in law enforcement for 34 years. What I know about this case shocks my conscience as a police officer, a father and a grandfather,’said Pierce.
Having initially told police he forgot to drop his child off at daycare and then traveled onto work, Harris phoned 911 at around 4.20pm in hysterics screaming, ‘What I have done?’
‘Within moments of the first responders getting to the scene and doing their job and questions began to be asked about the moments that led up to their arrival at the scene, some of those answers were not making sense to the first responders,’ Pierce of Cobb County Police said.
On Thursday, Harris pleaded not guilty to felony murder and cruelty to children charges. He’s being held without bond at the Cobb County Jail.
Ominously for Harris’ story, Pierce told CNN On Friday, ‘I cannot confirm that the child, as originally reported, was in the car at 9am.’
It wasn’t until 4 p.m., when he was driving home, that Harris claims he noticed his son was lifeless in the back seat.
He pulled over the SUV at the Akers Mill Square shopping center on Cobb Parkway and tried to perform CPR on the boy but it was too late.
A witness, Dale Hamilton, said told CBS46 he saw the distraught father pull the child out of the car and attempt to resuscitate him.