‘American Idol’ Singer Syesha Mercado Reunited With Infant Daughter — UPDATE

The Manatee Sheriff’s Office told Billboard that law enforcement “executed a pick-up order signed by a family court judge” on Aug. 10.

The Herald-Tribune reported that authorities took the baby girl to the hospital after deputies gave the couple a court order to turn her over for a checkup even after they informed the officers that they had been to the doctor the day before. At press time, it was unclear if the infant was still in custody, but sheriff’s deputies told NBC News that they took the baby girl because the couple failed to inform authorities that Mercado had given birth in the middle of the custody battle over Amen’Ra.

According to NBC, Amen’Ra was assessed in February by Dr. Sally Smith, a physician who was the subject of a USA Today investigation over accusations that she was too quick to diagnose child abuse. A review of hundreds of Smith’s cases reportedly found more than a dozen instances where charges were dropped or parents were acquitted after a traumatizing experience.

As they plead with authorities in the video, Deener says, “Can you have some empathy? Y’all done took our son, now you’re taking our daughter,” telling authorities that the couple asked that all questions go through their attorney, which he claims did not happen. Deener assures officers in the video that the baby had gone in for a checkup the day before and was deemed healthy.

Amen’Ra was placed into the Manatee Child Protective Services by order of a judge. The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office also told Billboard that it had received information from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital abuse line that the boy was “suffering from severe malnutrition/failure to thrive,” which, according to NBC, Mercado disputed.

Amen’Ra was later reportedly discharged to a white foster family — Mercado and Deener are Black — with Mercado saying she was not informed and no family members were contacted for possible placement. Mercado gave birth to her daughter in the midst of the legal fight over custody of Amen’Ra.

At press time, Mercado and Deener had raised $388,170 (of a $200,000 goal) on a GoFundMe in which she says her son has been “kidnapped by the System” after she claimed authorities said the couple refused a B12 shot for Amen’Ra. “We never refused a B12 shot, and at no point was he on the verge of death,” she wrote on the GFM page. Billboard has reached out to Mercado for comment; a spokesperson for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office’s Child Protection Unit had not yet returned requests for comment.

In addition to finishing third on the seventh season of Idol, Mercado has toured in Dreamgirls and performed in the Broadway company of The Book of Mormon, and was honored with a Syesha Mercado day in Sarasota in May 2008.

See the video of the police action below. (Warning: Clip contains intense situations.)

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