- By Madeline Halbert
- BBC News, New York
The death of a baby whose head was severed during childbirth has been ruled a homicide by the medical examiner's office in the US state of Georgia.
Parents Jessica Rose and Trevion Taylor are suing the hospital for not telling them their son's head was severed when he was born last year.
A medical examiner's office ruled the cause of death a human-caused fractured neck, according to a statement shared by the couple's attorney.
The hospital has denied wrongdoing.
Mr Taylor accused the doctor and hospital who delivered the baby of lying to them and not allowing them to see their son, whom they named Trevion Taylor Jr.
“We want justice for our son,” Mr Taylor told a news conference in Atlanta on Wednesday. “They lied to us, they didn't let us touch them, and we didn't like it.”
Warning – Some readers may find the details in this story upsetting
Mr Taylor spoke to his wife, who was too upset to speak.
Ms. Rose was admitted to Southern Regional Medical Center last July expecting to give birth to a “healthy baby,” her attorney, Roderick Edmond, told a news conference.
But because of shoulder dystocia, when the baby's shoulder gets stuck behind the pubic bone, the family reports that their baby may be stuck in the birth canal.
Mr Edmond said common measures to deal with the condition included maneuvers and caesareans in emergencies. Mrs Rose said she initially asked for one but was refused the procedure and was forced to push her baby for three hours.
Mr Taylor and Ms Ross allege that Dr Tracey St Julian, a member of a private practice not employed by the hospital, used excessive force on the baby in the birth canal, tried to pull him out, and severed his head. The baby was then delivered by emergency caesarean section.
“No credible, reasonably competent obstetrician should be doing this,” Mr Edmond said.
The BBC has contacted the hospital for comment. In a statement in August, the medical center denied the allegations and said the “unfortunate infant death occurred in utero prior to delivery and decapitation.”
The family also alleged that the hospital did not tell them that their baby had been decapitated or allowed them to touch or hold the baby after delivery. Staff encouraged the couple to cremate the baby without a post-mortem, which Mr Edmond said was a cover-up attempt.
“They wrapped the baby tightly in a blanket and propped the baby's head up in a blanket,” Mr Edmond told a news conference last year, adding, “Basically it looked like the head wasn't severed”.
The Clayton County Medical Examiner's Office said it was alerted to the incident only after a funeral home contacted the office because staff thought it was “unusual” for the office not to contact them given the circumstances.
The office has referred the incident to the police.