MILWAUKEE - A 22-year-old Chicago man is accused of alleged abuse that led to the death of a 1-year-old boy in Milwaukee.
The accused is Antonio Homan. He faces one count of first-degree reckless homicide, which comes with a maximum penalty of 60 years in prison.
According to a criminal complaint, first responders with the Milwaukee Fire Department were dispatched to a residence near 67th and Lisbon around 10:25 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 30. It was noted there was an unresponsive 1-year-old child there. The emergency team performed CPR on the child and took him to Children's Wisconsin.
The complaint states that around 10:45 p.m., the child, Zion Price, was admitted into the emergency department at Children's Wisconsin. Price was "unresponsive, had no pulse, and was not breathing on his own." The complaint notes there was also bruising to Price's face, chest and legs.
Back at the residence, the complaint says police made contact with Price's mother who they said was "uncooperative with the initial responding officers and told multiple differing stories to police." Antonio Homan, identified as the boyfriend of Price's mother, was also at the scene.
Homan told detectives on Sept. 30, the child "appeared lethargic and slept most of the day." After 10 p.m., Homan said the child's mother left the residence – and while she was gone, he heard the child "gasp for air. Antonio Homan ran into the bedroom." The complaint says, "Rather than calling 911, Antonio Homan called Price's mother and relayed that something was wrong with Price." The mother called 911.
The complaint indicates that based on the "severity of the injuries to Price and the lack of any explanation that would account for the severity of Price's injuries," Homan and the boy's mother were arrested.
A board-certified child abuse pediatrician with Children's Wisconsin conducted a clinical consultation on the child, the complaint says. The doctor said the child's "entire clinical presentation was consistent with suffering abusive head trauma, formerly shaken baby syndrome." Shortly after midnight on Oct. 4, Price was removed from life support and pronounced deceased.
A Milwaukee police detective later interviewed Homan who stated on the evening of Sept. 30, he heard Price "let out a loud cry and Antonio Homan admittedly became frustrated." Homan told police he picked up the child and "shook" him. A short time later, the child stopped breathing.
Homan made his initial appearance in court on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Cash bond was set at $40,000. Homan is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 13.
According to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, charges against the 32-year-old mother are pending.
Boy's family speaks out
FOX6 News on Thursday, Oct. 7 spoke with several of Price's family members, including his father who said he believes this tragic situation could have been prevented.
"He’s a coward," Carlton Price Jr., the boy's father, said of Homan. "I was failed, in every way, shape or form."
In his short time on this earth, loved ones said Price was a bright light in their lives.
"He was just the sweetest baby," said Melinda Hamilton, the boy's paternal grandmother. "You always think you’re going to get more time…and I didn’t get that time."
"He didn’t deserve this," said Linda, the boy's great aunt on his father's side.
Price Jr. told FOX6 News that signs of abuse were noticed and reported in the two weeks before the boy's death. Price Jr. said he learned the child was brought to the hospital by his mother on Sept. 22. Family said that was the first time Child Protective Services got involved for suspected abuse. Relatives now question why on Sept. 28, according to the family, the 1-year-old was released back to his mom – only to be found unresponsive two days later.
In a statement from Children's Wisconsin, a spokesperson said: "To answer your question about placement of a child, that is a decision made by CPS. While a health system can provide medical care, it cannot make a decision about where a child goes."
"What are protective services for if they're not going to protect?" Hamilton said.
FOX6 News requested information about this case from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families but was told the department cannot disclose specific case details.
FOX6 News made attempts to contact the boy's mother for a statement Thursday, but did not immediately hear back.