Court docs: Toddler suffered fatal head injury after being shaken, dropped on floor
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Police arrested an Indianapolis man on murder and neglect charges after the death of a 17-month-old child.
According to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, emergency crews were dispatched to a home in the 7400 block of Rockleigh Avenue around 2:15 a.m. on March 8. Medics from the Wayne Township Fire Department checked Terrence Porter Jr., 24, and determined he was experiencing a panic attack instead of a cardiac-related episode.
As crews were leaving, Porter ran out of the house saying his child wasn’t breathing. Medics found the 17-month-old boy, Emmanuel Jenkins, unresponsive inside.
The child was taken to IU Health West Hospital in Avon before being transferred to another hospital for treatment and evaluation. The child died on March 9. Police determined the toddler died from “injuries sustained while in the care of Terrence Porter.”
Porter was arrested on charges of murder, neglect of a dependent causing death, and battery.
According to court documents, the Department of Child Services received a report on March 1 that the boy went to Riley Children’s Hospital at IU Health with “suspicious injuries”; his ears and right elbow were swollen and painful to the touch. Since there were no obvious signs of trauma, the toddler was released to his mother.
A CT scan on March 8 showed the boy had a head injury (an acute subdural hematoma) and bleeding from the eye sockets (retinal hemorrhaging), according to court documents. A doctor told investigators the boy’s brain was “quickly dying” and the prognosis was “extremely grim.” The doctor said a violent shake or significant strike could have caused those types of injuries.
Porter and the boy’s mother said the child was fine until a few days before, when he was “more clingy” and “especially fussy.” He slept unusually late on March 7 and wasn’t acting normally. The boy wasn’t eating well and started vomiting.
Around 1 a.m. on March 8, the boy was crying and Porter offered him water, which the boy didn’t want. Porter complained of chest pain that morning and that’s when the 911 call was placed that brought emergency responders to the home.
After the child’s death, a doctor said his injuries were “characteristic of physical abuse, specifically abusive head trauma,” according to court documents.
“His head injury would have resulted from a violent acceleration-deceleration mechanism; inflicting his injuries would have required an amount of force that a reasonable caregiver would have clearly recognized as dangerous for a toddler,” court documents said.
The coroner’s office determined the boy died from blunt force traumatic injury to the head and ruled his death a homicide.
During a follow-up interview, Porter said he and his girlfriend have “had several violent fights” and told investigators he broke the front door of his girlfriend’s mother’s house during a fight. He also said he broke a TV and a popcorn canister because he was “enraged over a Fortnite video game,” punching and stomping on the TV.
He later told police he’d picked the boy up from his playpen and was “rougher with him than I meant to be.” The boy was flailing, Porter said, and he shook him “harder than I should have,” according to court documents. He also said he dropped the boy on the floor, causing him to hit the back of his head on the tile.
“When I dropped him, it was pretty hard,” he said in court documents, “[the boy] hit the ground pretty hard.” The boy’s behavior changed entirely after that, Porter said. He didn’t tell anyone about the incident, even though he knew it “could have helped my baby.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell [the boy’s mother] the truth, it was a mistake,” he said in court documents.