Man accused of punching 1-year-old in the face

Police: Young boy taken to hospital to be treated for injuries suffered outside Cracker Barrel in Lake City

A 1-year-old boy was taken to a hospital after a man punched the child several times on Sunday, according to an arrest report from the Lake City Police Department.

LAKE CITY, Fla.Disclaimer: Some may find the details included in this story to be graphic in nature. Discretion is advised.

A 1-year-old boy was taken to a hospital after a man punched the child several times on Sunday, according to an arrest report from the Lake City Police Department.

According to the arrest report, Brandon, Joseph Hampson, 27, is charged with a first-degree felony count of cruelty to a child and a second-degree felony county of aggravated battery after a woman called 911 to report witnessing a child being abused outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant on Southwest Commerce Drive.

The report states that shortly after 3:15 p.m. Sunday, a woman and her mother were putting her niece and nephew in car seats when they heard a child crying and screaming. The woman told police that as she and her mother were looking to see where the noise was coming from, they observed Hampson dragging a child to his car and then slapping the child in the face, according to the report. The witness said Hampson opened the car door and then threw the small child into the front seat before repeatedly punching the 1-year-old boy in the face and head area, the report states.

According to the arrest report, the witness saw Hampson take a break from beating the child by lighting a cigarette and then proceeded to repeatedly punch the child again. The report shows the witness told police she believed Hampson punched the child 10 to 15 times.

The witness also took a photo of Hampson as he stood next to his car, and police said they used that picture to positively identify him when they entered the Cracker Barrel to look for him.

Hampson was first detained by police as officers spoke to a woman whose name is redacted from the report. She told officers that she was in the bathroom when the incident happened and did not learn about the alleged abuse until after officers placed Hampson in handcuffs. When asked if she knew why Hampson allegedly beat the 1-year-old, most of her answer was redacted, but there is an unredacted statement in the report that said Hampson accused her of babying the child too much.

A witness, who asked not to be identified, said she and her husband were in the restaurant and witnessed an unsettling chain of events before the boy and the suspect went outside.

“First, we heard the child screaming and crying in the back of the restaurant for a little while. After a few moments, we saw what we assumed was the dad yanking the baby by his arm to try and get him to go to the front of the restaurant. Then he started hitting the child on the back and repeatedly telling him to shut up,” the witness said.

The witness said the boy was brought back to the table after leaving the room.

“Holding the baby, she looked visibly upset. She knew something was wrong with her child,” the witness said.

She said that she and her husband contemplated calling police, but realized someone else had done so.

“As soon as I saw the first police officer, I knew exactly why they were there,” the witness said.

The boy was taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries, the report states. The officer who wrote the report said the child had visible injuries that included two large goose egg bruises on the top of his head and several fresh scratch marks on his face, as well as bruising inside of his right ear.

The report states that Hampson told another officer he only spanked the boy, but the visible injuries to the child combined with eyewitness accounts led police to arrest Hampson.

The report also notes that there was also a warrant out for his arrest in Suwannee County on a misdemeanor charge.

Hampson was booked shortly after 4 p.m. Sunday into the Columbia County jail.

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