The mother of a 3-year-old boy who fell into the Cincinnati Zoo’s gorilla exhibit last month will not face charges. Harambe was shot dead by zoo officials. Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens
CINCINNATI, June 6 (UPI) -- No charges will be filed against the mother of a 3-year-old boy who fell 15 feet into the Cincinnati Zoo's gorilla exhibit, prompting the killing of the animal.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said during a news conference Monday the mother did not cause harm to the child, who was picked up by Harambe the gorilla, who began dragging him. The 17-year-old gorilla was shot and killed by zoo officials in the May 28 encounter.
"I've never seen the attention given to a family endangering case as this," Deters said.
He said someone must create substantial risk to the child to be charged.
"Had she been in the bathroom smoking crack and letting her kids run around the zoo, that would be a different story," Deters said.
Instead, she was also being attentive to three other children when the child climbed over the enclosure and went through thick bushes in front of the moat.
"If you don't believe a 3-year-old can scamper away that quickly, you've never had kids," Deters said. "They just do that."
Social workers were "very impressed with the environment" at the home, Deters said.
The boy was treated at a hospital for scrapes on his head and knee.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported last week that the Cincinnati Police Department didn't recommend charges after completing its investigation.
Cincinnati police last week said in a statement their investigation is due dilligence and "is only regarding the actions of the parents/family that led up to the incident and not related to the operation or safety of the Cincinnati Zoo.
The family, in a statement, was happy with the announcement.
"The family is very pleased with this decision; it is what we expected," the family said. "This is one more step in allowing us to put this tragic episode behind us and return to our normal family life. We extend thanks to all of those who have been praying for us and who have supported us through this trying ordeal and praise to God for his mercy and grace."
The family has no plans to sue the zoo, a family spokesman said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating the zoo's safety and operation.