The Hamilton County prosecutor decided he is not going to press child endangerment charges against the mother of the 3-year-old boy who fell into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.
“Hopefully this will never happen again,” Cincinnati Prosecutor Joe Deters said. “This happened so quickly there is nothing the mother could have done.”
The Ohio prosecutor went on to say the child endangerment investigation was focused upon the boy’s mother, Michelle Gregg, because she was the adult in charge of the boy at the time. The boy’s father was not present — the mother had gone to the zoo with a friend.
Deters also said Gregg was paying attention to the other three children when the boy “scampered off” and climbed into the gorilla enclosure.
Joe Deters hosted a news conference at 1 p.m. to announce if Michelle Gregg, 32, would face any charges related to the fatal shooting of Harambe. The endangered lowland gorilla had turned 17 just a day before the boy falling into his habitat prompted his death.
The Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla World exhibit had existed at the nation’s second oldest zoo for 38 years without incident. The exhibit is expected to reopen tomorrow with a taller barrier between the public and the silverback gorillas. The zoo passed its federal inspection two months ago and never before had such a close encounter with a visitor and a wild animal.
— KTLA (@KTLA) June 6, 2016
“A prosecutor should not bring a case unless there is probable cause. And even if there’s probable cause, there is the notion of doing justice. He should not bring a case unless he believes that he has the evidence to prove that case,” UC law and criminal justice professor Christo Lassiter told WLWT News 5.
The 3-year-old boy, who fell about 15 feet into the moat filled with a small amount of water, survived the time he spent in the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla habitat with only minor injuries. He was treated at a local hospital for scrapes to his head and knee and then released back into the care of his parents.
Michelle Gregg is a preschool teacher, and the father of her children reportedly has an extensive criminal history but is now gainfully employed. Michelle Gregg and Deonne Dickerson have four children together, according to a Daily Mail report.
A decision will be made today on whether the family of the child who fell in the gorilla exhibit will be charged.- https://t.co/d1hi9mBqJd
— WSYX ABC 6 (@wsyx6) June 6, 2016
Last week, Cincinnati police officials released the 911 recordings from the incident in Harambe’s habitat.
“He’s dragging my son! I can’t watch this,” Michelle Gregg reportedly yelled frantically into the phone as she shouted for her son to “Be calm.”
The police report also stated the endangered lowland gorilla appeared to be trying to protect the little boy from the screaming crowd, according to witnesses. After the panic continued, the witnesses said Harambe became both “agitated and scared” and drug the boy through the water and up into the main area of the habitat.
After he reached a spot further away from the screaming crowd, Harambe reportedly sat with the boy between his legs, still possibly in a protective pose. The boy and the gorilla briefly touched hands during the encounter. The endangered lowland gorilla was also seen using his large hands to position the boy out of the water before the climb up the moat wall.
— Kristen Kelly (@KristenKellyTV) May 31, 2016
The boy allegedly told his mother he was going to climb into the gorilla enclosure multiple times, according to a comment made by at least one witness. The parents of the boy, especially the mother, has been the target of a massive amount of social media hate since the story of Harambe’s death made international headlines.
The parents have not spoken publicly or to the media about the incident which caused the rapid response team at the Cincinnati Zoo decide to shoot and kill Harambe to ensure the safety of the child. Through a spokesperson, Michelle Gregg and Deonne Dickerson have said they have no plans to sue the zoo over the incident.
Do you think the boy’s mother should have been be charged with child endangerment over the actions which led up to Harambe being shot and killed by Cincinnati Zoo staff?
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