The Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office announced the ruling Tuesday, saying the infant’s cause of death had been “shoulder dystocia, arrest of labour, and fetal entrapment in the birth canal,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The parents, Jessica Ross and Treveon Isaiah Taylor Sr, have filed a lawsuit against Southern Regional Medical Center and obstetrician Dr Tracey St. Julian, accusing them of negligence.
Ross, 20, went to the hospital in Riverdale when she went into labour in July 2023. According to the lawsuit, a C-section was performed after the baby boy, named Treveon Isaiah Taylor Jr, became stuck in the birth canal.
During the procedure, “excessive tension” was applied to the baby’s head and neck, causing the decapitation, the lawsuit states.
“They were so excited about the birth of their first child. Unfortunately, their dreams and hopes turned into a nightmare that was covered up by Southern Regional Medical Center,” the couple’s attorney, Cory Lynch, previously said, according to the Associated Press.
“We just want justice for our son,” the baby’s father, Treveon Taylor Sr said at a press conference on Wednesday in Atlanta.
According to the lawsuit, neither mother nor father were initially told what had occurred, and they were urged to cremate the deceased infant and to not seek an autopsy. They allegedly only found out about the decapitation after they were contacted by the funeral home.
The investigation began after the funeral home, concerned by the “death of a baby with a detached head”, contacted the medical examiner’s office because they found it “unusual that our office was not already involved”, the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s Office said in a press release.
In a statement obtained by Fox 5 Atlanta, the hospital offered their “deepest sympathies” to the family but denied any wrongdoing, claiming the infant’s death “occurred in utero prior to the delivery and decapitation”. They also stated that Dr Julian “is not and never has been an employee of the hospital”.
“The hospital voluntarily reported the death to the Clayton County Medical Examiner’s office and is cooperating with all investigations,” they said. “Since this matter is in litigation, we cannot provide additional statements.”
It is not clear whether Dr Julian has retained an attorney, and the gynecological practice she belongs to did not immediately respond to a request for comment.