A North Carolina woman who was caught on video allegedly giving a marijuana cigarette to an infant and allowing him or her to smoke it has been arrested, KABC-TV (Los Angeles) is reporting.
On Wednesday, various versions of the same video went viral across Facebook, eventually being shared over 1.5 million times. In almost all of the videos, users sharing it called for the arrest of the woman in the video.
In it, an adult off-screen can be seen giving what appears to be a cigarillo (that is, a small cigar) to an infant. The infant appears to make a "cooing" sound before inhaling and then exhaling a puff of smoke.
Police would later say that the cigarette contained marijuana.
It would take some detective work from Facebook users around the globe, but eventually, according to WTVD-TV (Raleigh), users who recognized faces, voices, and other clues tipped off police to a suspect. They were led to an apartment in northeast Raleigh, where they found the baby's mother, 20-year-old Brianna Ashanti Lofton. She was arrested and charged with two counts of felony child abuse, contributing to delinquency and possession of marijuana.
The unidentified baby, meanwhile, has been placed into the care of Wake County Child Protective Services.
20-year-old Brianna Ashanti Lofton, accused of placing a marijuana joint to her infants' mouth, meets with Wake Co. magistrates. pic.twitter.com/sDzDb59TlIIn a statement, the Raleigh Police Department thanked the collective Facebook community for springing into action.
— Gary Cooper (@GaryCooperWTVD) March 21, 2018
"Big thanks to everyone who posted information about the smoking mother and baby. Thanks to your willingness to get involved, the child is now safe and the mother is in police custody."One of the Facebook users who contributed to the effort, who identified himself as Rasheed Martin of Rochester, New York, said he didn't know the baby, or the mom, or have any real connection to the situation at all. Nevertheless, he wanted to do his part to see the mom held responsible, so he shared the video in hopes that somebody would notice something useful.
"I later added it to the post so everyone could know exactly who... did that to the poor little girl."WTVD reports that if you see video of a crime being committed on Facebook, you should absolutely share it, with the hopes that enough people will see the video and be able to identify the victims, scene, perpetrators, and so on.
However, if you believe you have witnessed a sex crime against a child, think twice about sharing the video, according to the Bradenton Herald. That's because you may very well be sharing child pornography, which can land you in trouble with the law. Instead, report it to Facebook and then delete it.