Police charge babysitter with child abuse

Police have charged a New Albany woman with felony child abuse in what Police Chief Chris Robertson calls one of the most serious cases in his career.

Shaka Johnson, 29, of Lot 37, 1102 E. Bankhead St. remained jailed here Wednesday with bond set at $100,000 in the case.

Chief Robertson said the incident happened Friday. Police were first called to the emergency room at Baptist Memorial Hospital about 4 p.m. to deal with what they referred to as a disgruntled father.



But when they got there they found the ER staff was treating a 22-month-old black female, daughter of the father, and who Robertson said was unconscious and in obvious medical distress. The child had been brought in by a babysitter while the father was at work.

“The child had been beaten severely resulting in brain injury and swelling, and there were other injuries as well,” the chief said.

LeBonheur Children’s Hospital immediately dispatched a helicopter to transport the child to Memphis and as of Wednesday she was reported still in critical condition. Her prognosis depends partly on the brain swelling going down and what effects that may have, he said.

“During the course of the investigation we determined the babysitter was responsible and arrested and charged her,” Robertson said.

He added that the suspect and child live near each other in the same trailer park. The father is a single parent who works and the suspect has been keeping the child for the father. Two of the suspect’s children were reported to be at the location when the alleged abuse occurred but neither was injured.

The suspect has no felony criminal record as far as police known and they are still trying to determine exactly what happened but Robertson said “obviously, something spun out of control.”