Michelle Gregg, the 32-year-old mother whose son fell into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo, forcing staff to fatally shoot Harambe the gorilla, will not face criminal charges, the local prosecutor announced Monday.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said at a press conference that Gregg “did not act in any way” to put her 3-year-old son, Isaiah, in harms way. The boy was hospitalized with serious injuries, but was sent home to recover a day after the May 28 incident.
You can watch Deters’ press conference below:
“She had three other kids with her, and turned her back,” Deters told reporters. “I’ve gotten dozens, if not hundreds, of emails about this case. And if anyone doesn’t believe a 3-year-old can scamper off very quickly, they’ve never had kids. Because they can, and they do.”
Deters said “the zoo lost a beautiful animal … but it is still an animal, it does not equate human life. And they felt that this boy’s life was in jeopardy and they made the painful choice to do what they did. But in terms of the mother, had she been in the bathroom smoking crack and let her kids run around the zoo that would be a different story. But that’s not what happened here. She was being attentive to her children by all witness accounts and the 3-year-old just scampered off.”
Hundreds of thousands of people signed petitions and joined Facebook groups calling for Michelle Gregg and her family to be held accountable for the death of Harambe.
In a statement issued after Deters’ press conference, the Gregg family said, “The family is pleased with this decision; it is what we expected. This is one more step in allowing us to put this tragic episode behind us and return to our normal family life. We extend thanks to all of those who have been praying for us and those who have supported us through this trying ordeal and praise to God for His mercy and grace.”
Gregg, a daycare administrator in Cincinnati, is the mother of four children with Deonne Dickerson, including Isaiah. Dickerson was not at the zoo at the time of the incident.
Videos recorded by a bystander show Harambe grab the boy after he fell down 15 feet into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo. He can be seen dragging the boy through a moat as Gregg and others watch in horror.
Harambe, a 17-year-old Western Lowlands silverback gorilla, was fatally shot by zoo staff after they determined the boy’s life was in danger.
Read more about Gregg at the link below: