RALEIGH, N. C. – A video of a baby smoking a small cigar set off outrage on social media that helped North Carolina authorities to identify and arrest the mother.
A version of the video received 1.5 million views, was posted by a user who urged the mother’s arrest. The 10-second video clip shows the hand of an adult from the screen, holding what appears to be a cigarillo on the lips of the child. The child makes a cooing sound and seems to inhale for the rental of a puff of smoke.
The Raleigh Police Department said Wednesday that the child was safe and the mother was in custody.
“Big thanks to everyone who posted information about the smoking of mother and baby,” department officials told their Facebook followers in a post. “Thank you for your willingness to become involved, the child is now safe and the mother is in custody.”
Police spokeswoman Laura Hourigan confirmed in an e-mail that the officials were referring to to see the child in the video.
It was not immediately clear what substance the child was smoking, but the mother is charged with marijuana possession. Brianna Ashanti Lofton, 20, was also charged with two counts of felony child abuse, according to a police press release.
The baby was placed with the county’s child protective services department. A phone listing for Lofton couldn’t be found through a public records search.
While the police said several Facebook users alerted them to the video Wednesday morning, the holder of the account to which the posting was seen by over a million people, said he is happy that the child is now safe.
The user, who identified himself as Rasheed Martin of Rochester, New York, said that he has not yet spoken directly with the police, but he is happy that he contributed to the awareness. His post prompted many comments from people concerned about the child or angry at the mother.
Martin said that he did not know, the mother and first found out about the video when a friend shared online. He said that he wanted the woman to be held responsible, so he reposted the video, while urging his followers to help identify the woman.
“When more and more people in this situation, they showed me a screenshot of her actual Facebook page,” Martin said in an online interview. “Then I later added to the post, so that everyone could know exactly who … that poor little girl.”
Follow Drew on www.twitter.com/JonathanLDrew