SAVANNAH, Ga, (WSAV)- A viral video is now the center of a police investigation. A man was caught on camera whipping his child with a belt. News 3 has been following the story since the video surfaced.
Savannah Police has now confirmed their Special Victims Unit is investigating. They also said the District Attorney’s office and the Divison of Family and Children Services are involved.
At least two witnesses called the police that night when they saw a man beating and dragging his child in public.
“What is shown on that video, none of us know whats going on in the home, and that’s something I can’t help but think about,” said Cheryl Branch, Executive Director of SAFE Shelter.
Branch has worked with victims of family violence for the past 20 years.
“People have very strong feelings on their right to spank their children and I am not going to get into that debate,” said Branch. “But, I think that any way you look at it, that was a parent to me that was out of control.”
According to witnesses the incident happened around 9:30 Saturday night.
One man tells news 3 he began videoing the man from the parking lot after he saw him beating the children.
As the man becomes enraged, a woman with him, who appears to be pregnant tried to calm him down.
“I kept recording until he got into his car and he pulled away immediately after that and I called 911 because I wanted to stay on the scene with the video I just recorded,” said Joseph McGowan, a witness. “They had told me several other people had already called, there were a number of calls.”
Savannah police told News 3 an officer did visit the home that night and made contact with the family.
The Special Victims Unit is now in charge of the investigation.
“We don’t want them to take the kids of course, but there needs to be some kind of parenting plan in place somebody needs to be at somebody’s parenting classes,” said Jessica Scott, a Child Advocate with SAFE Shelter. “We do offer parenting classes here because a lot of the times they do think that whipping is the way to do stuff and it’s not.”
Corporal punishment is legal in the state of Georgia. The law states that you can physically spank a child, as long as it isn’t excessive and doesn’t cause injury.
“This man was injuring his children and you can’t injure anyone else, but it is doubly sad when it’s your own child,” said McGowan.
We are not releasing the man’s name because it is unclear if he is facing any charges. We are working on getting the incident report from SPD.