(Editor’s note: Both the toddler and the father survive, but the video is still graphic and contains footage of a police K-9 biting the father.)
PALM COAST, Florida (KFOR/Storyful) – A Florida man charged with kidnapping his one-year-old son is accused of leading law enforcement on a reckless pursuit that ended in a McDonald’s drive-thru. Vest cam video shows the man allegedly using his own son as a human shield.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office stated the suspect, Brandon Matthew Douglas Leohner, 27, was armed with a handgun when he left the boy’s mother’s house with his son on his lap hours earlier on September 27th.
When deputies caught up to Leohner later that day, they say he drove through oncoming traffic and drove over medians to avoid arrest, all with his son inside the vehicle.
Deputies eventually cornered Leohner in the drive-thru area, where the suspect got out of his car, held his son forward-facing against his chest, and refused to put the toddler on the ground.
Deputies carefully aimed a Taser, strategically avoiding the toddler, while hitting the man in the leg.
When he fell, Leohner seemed to position his body in a way to shield the child from the impact of the fall, which is when a deputy grabbed the unharmed one-year-old.
As the deputy comforted the toddler, the boy pointed at Leohner and said, “Dada! Dada!” When he saw the K-9, the boy then pointed and said, “Doggy, doggy!”
Video at the top of this story shows another man take the toddler away so the deputy could assist in the arrest, as they attempted to get Leohner to put his hands behind his back.
Because Leohner was resisting, the K-9 chomped down on his leg for several seconds, creating a bloody wound.
Leohner was later treated at a hospital and booked into jail.
Along with kidnapping, Leohner was also charged with using a minor as a shield, resisting with violence, child neglect, fleeing and eluding, and reckless driving.
The boy has since been reunited with his mother.
“Here is a case of a domestic situation turning violent, putting a 1-year-old child and innocent drivers in danger,” said Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly. “Deputies were confronted with a very chaotic situation and a very combative individual that was putting his child at risk by using the child as a shield. Our deputies did everything they could to quickly rescue this child safely from a madman and apprehend the suspect.”