South Sound News

A 5-month-old boy was gravely injured after his uncle assaulted him, charging papers say

TACOMA, Wash. — A 5-month-old boy was critically injured after his uncle allegedly assaulted him when he became frustrated with the child’s crying, according to court records.

Carlos Daniel Salazar Santoyo, 20, pleaded not guilty at arraignment in Pierce County Superior Court on Monday to first-degree child assault. Court Commissioner Meagan Foley set his bail at $2 million.

Charging papers give this account of what happened:

The Tacoma Fire Department got a report Friday that a baby was having trouble breathing at a home in the 1100 block of East 61st Street.

Emergency personnel arrived to find the 5-month-old with a head injury and bruising on his body, and they took him to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.

That’s where investigators spoke with the child’s mother, who said that her sister and brother-in-law, Salazar, had been watching the baby. She said she took the baby and her 2-year-old to her sister’s Friday morning.

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​A doctor told investigators that the baby’s injuries were probably from shaking.

The sister said she did not see Salazar do anything but admitted they’d been in different rooms at one point.

Salazar told investigators that his wife told him to call 911 after he noticed the baby making hiccup noises and having trouble breathing after Salazar put him down for a nap. The baby was unresponsive, he said.

He said the baby started crying about noon, that he tried to sooth the child and that he might have injured the baby while playing with him, court records show.

Salazar said he used wrestling moves that involved him holding the baby and jumping onto the bed with him.

Investigators gave him a doll so he could demonstrate what he did.

Salazar, who is 5-foot-10, showed how he let the baby fall onto the bed seven or eight times from as high as his head.

He also showed how he held the baby to his chest “before jumping prone onto the bed” several times, the charging papers say, and how he swung the baby from his shoulder onto the mattress four or five times.

“The defendant verbalized ‘bam’ each time the child impacted the bed,” according to the charging papers.

A detective told Salazar that it would take a “high level” of force to cause the baby’s injuries, and Salazar admitted that he used far more force with the baby than he showed with the dolls.

“Whenever I carry him, he just cries ... I guess I just got too frustrated ... while playing with him,” the charging papers say.

A detective called the hospital Sunday for an update on the baby and was told that he was on life support and had brain stem activity, but no brain activity, court records show.