Atlanta Officer Kills Black Woman, Injures Child, Following Breastfeeding Argument

Recycled fake news reports that a police officer killed a mother following a dispute about breastfeeding her child in public.

  • Published 8 August 2014
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Claim

An Atlanta police officer killed a baby following a breastfeeding dispute with the child's mother.

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Origin

On 7 August 2014, the National Report fake news site published a hoax article reporting that a NYPD police officer had killed a baby following a breastfeeding dispute with the child’s mother:

In a continuation of the ongoing police scandals rocking the New York City Police Department, three-month old infant Layla Smith has been pronounced dead following an August sixth incident. This closely follows the July seventeenth death of NYC resident Eric Garner after the use of a prohibited choke hold by officers against him. Garners death was ruled a homicide by the NYC medical examiners office.

Suzanne Smith, Layla’s mother, had been sitting on a bench in Queens waiting for the bus when Layla began to insistently cry. Knowing that her baby was hungry Ms. Smith began to breastfeed her daughter. Witnesses at the scene report that she was then approached by a NYPD Officer, later identified as Michael Fitzsimmons, who requested that she stop feeding the baby in public as it was “indecent”. Ms. Smith refused to comply with the directive and told Officer Fitzsimmons that she wasn’t doing anything illegal. Officer Fitzsimmons again insisted that she stop and threatened to arrest her for indecent exposure. Ms. Smith calmly responded to the Officer that he could not arrest her because breastfeeding in public wasn’t against the law.

“He got so mad at her”, said Tyrone Webb, who witnessed the unfortunate altercation. “He started yelling at her, saying that he was the police, and that she didn’t know s**t about what was against the law. He got all red in the face, pointing his finger right at her nose. She just sat there and kept feeding the baby calm as could be, being real polite and reasonable. Someone else tried to chime in and tell him he was wrong and he told the lady to shut up and mind her business.”

In September 2016, that article was recycled by the Baltimore Gazette, a recently established fake news site. The Gazette‘s version changed the locale from New York to Atlanta, the mother’s given name from Layla to Latoya, and posited that it was the mother herself rather than her child who was killed by a police officer following a breastfeeding dispute, but otherwise followed the same template as the previous fictional article:

In a continuation of the ongoing police scandals rocking the country, 28-year-old Latoya Smith has been pronounced dead following an incident this afternoon in Atlanta, according to multiple local media outlets. This closely follows the recent shooting deaths of Tulsa resident Terence Crutcher and Charlotte resident Keith Lamont Scott which have thrown the nation into turmoil resulting in violent demonstrations.

According to eyewitness accounts, Latoya was sitting on a bench in the neighborhood of Marietta Street (recently named one of America’s 25 most dangerous neighborhoods) waiting for the bus when her infant child began crying insistently. Knowing that her baby was hungry Ms. Smith began to breastfeed her daughter, Layla. She was then approached by a police officer, later identified as Michael Eaton, who requested that she stop feeding the baby in public as it was “indecent”. Ms. Smith refused to comply with the directive and told Officer Eaton that she wasn’t doing anything illegal. Officer Eaton again insisted that she stop and threatened to arrest her for indecent exposure. Ms. Smith calmly responded to the Officer that he could not arrest her because breastfeeding in public wasn’t against the law.

“He got so mad at her”, said Tyrone Webb, who witnessed the unfortunate altercation. “He started yelling at her, saying that he was the police, and that she didn’t know s**t about what was against the law. He got all red in the face, pointing his finger right at her nose. She just sat there and kept feeding the baby calm as could be, being real polite and reasonable. Someone else tried to chime in and tell him he was wrong and he told the lady to shut up and mind her business.”

Other fake news stories published by the Gazette include “Islam Studies Added to Common Core Curriculum.”