American Idol alum Syesha Mercado has had another baby taken from her.
The singer, 34, shared an hour-long Instagram video of sheriff's deputies forcing her to hand over her newborn daughter on the side of the road, even as Mercado told them her baby was still breastfeeding. "THEY TOOK OUR BABY AGAIN!," she captioned the Aug. 11 video.
Mercado has explained on social media that she brought her firstborn son, Amen'Ra, to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., earlier this year. She took him in to get "extra fluids," because he was weaning from extended breast feeding to eating more solids. However, she said armed officers "forcefully removed me from my son" in March after she was accused of abuse and neglect, in her words.
The singer wrote on Instagram, "They ripped me away from my proudest creation in life, pure joy, my SUNhine."
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office "concluded an investigation" in March after receiving information through an abuse hotline about a child at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital "who was suffering from severe malnutrition/failure to thrive," according to Randy Warren, a public information officer of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, in a statement to E! News on Aug. 13.
Warren said a judge ordered Amen'Ra to be sheltered and receive treatment. "The parents refused to cooperate," the officer said, adding that Safe Children's Coalition took over the case, including the decision to shelter Mercado's second child this week.
A family court judge ordered officers to "pick-up" the family's newborn daughter, which took place on Wednesday, Warren added. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office declined to comment further.
NBC News reported that her baby daughter was taken during a surprise welfare check. "How could you guys do this? Do you not feel anything?" she asked officers in her video this week, per NBC. "My baby is days old and you're taking my baby away from me. You're taking my baby away from me. You have no heart. This is so wrong."
E! News has reached out to the Department of Children and Families, which is the custodian of records, according to Warren.
Mercado has received an outpouring of support after she accused authorities of racial discrimination in her GoFundMe page, which has raised more than $250,000 to "Bring Ra Home." She wrote that she and her partner Tyron (whom she says is an educator and youth service professional working in the foster system) need support to raise awareness of the "Legal Kidnapping of Black Babies through CPS."
According to Mercado's fundraiser, authorities accused her of refusing a B12 shot "that was a matter of life and death" for Ra. Mercado alleges that's an "absolute lie," saying they never refused the shot and "at no point was he on the verge of death."
Tyron also said in the Instagram video they have been cooperating and said he told authorities during a recent check-up to contact his attorney.
Captain Dennis E. Romano Jr., who is the commander of the Child Protection Investigation Division at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, said in a statement to E! News, "We understand that from the outside looking in... [the division's] actions seem uncaring, but let me assure you we have the best interest of children and families in mind at all times."
He said his department follows numerous laws "to ensure we do not lose focus when dealing with vulnerable families," adding, "The last thing anyone in this business wants to do is shelter children from their parents, but sometimes it is the only direction we are forced to take."
When "the need arises" to shelter children, according to Romano, the families are "given guidance" on how to reunite with their children.
Mercado has been fighting to be reunited with Amen'Ra for months, calling him "a captivating spirit, a beautiful light, with eyes bright like the sun" on her GoFundMe page. "He brightens up any room with his vibrant smile," she said. "He is 18 months old and absolutely loves being in nature, his mommy reading to him, playing his djembe drums, and listening to his favorite album on the record player, Bob Marley."
Mercado was the second place runner-up on American Idol in 2008, placing behind David Archuleta and David Cook. She has also performed in The Book of Mormon on Broadway, according to IBDB.