Syesha Mercado of “American Idol” fame is speaking out against the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office after they detained her 10-day-old baby daughter in a harrowing video that has gone viral.
This is the 34-year-old Sarasota, Florida native’s second child, whom authorities have “forcefully and legally kidnapped” under unclear circumstances in the last five months from the 34-year-old Sarasota, Florida native, who finished in the top three on TV’s long-running singing competition.
Deputies surrounded an SUV that Mercado, her newborn baby, and her partner, Tyron Deener, were driving in early Wednesday morning to conduct a surprise roadside welfare check, as captured in disturbing video that has received over 2.1 million views as of Saturday afternoon. The infant was then taken into custody by police and taken to a hospital for a physical, presumably in response to previous — and still hotly contested — allegations of malnutrition involving the couple’s then-13-month-old son.
“THEY TOOK OUR BABY AGAIN!,” Mercado and Deener, 36, captioned a photo of the incident on Instagram. Multiple police vehicles flash their lights throughout the hour-long video, which shows two male deputies serving the couple with a court order to turn over their baby.
“Do you not feel anything? You guys, I’m human. This is my baby. My babies is days old — and you’re taking my baby away from me,” a crying Mercado can be heard saying in the chilling clip before starting to sob as four female child protective services caseworkers stand their ground.
Deener and the singer-actress, who starred in Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” in 2014, try to explain to authorities that they are “compliant and following every law,” adding that their daughter had just been seen by doctors the day before.
“You are traumatizing my baby. How could you guys do this?,” a distraught Mercado screams as her daughter is taken from her arms and placed alone in the back seat of a city vehicle. “… You have no heart. This is so wrong. I have the key to this city … I’ll hold it together. I’m strong.”
During her “American Idol” hometown visit on May 9, 2008, Mercado was given a key to the city of Sarasota, which was declared “Syesha Mercado Day” by local officials. She eventually came in third place on the show, behind David Archuleta and the season’s winner, David Cook. She went on to star in the national tour of “Dreamgirls” in 2009-2010, which kicked off at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater, opposite Adrienne Warren, who plays Tina Turner on Broadway in “Tina.”
Mercado had to breastfeed her crying baby and provide authorities with a bottle of breast milk on the side of a busy road a decade later, according to The Root.
The Florida Department of Children and Families and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office have not responded to The Post’s repeated requests for comment. Mercado’s last professional representative stated that she “isn’t really working right now,” but expressed concern about her situation. Attempts to get in touch with her have been unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, according to activist Donisha Prendergast, 36, founder of the We Have the Right to be Right social justice organization, who is advocating for the couple, her infant is still in protective custody.
Mercado and Deener’s 1-year-old son, Amen’Ra, had been placed in the system five months prior after Mercado’s breast milk supply ran out and the boy refused to accept other fluids, according to FOX Tampa Bay at the time. On February 26, they took Amen’Ra to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg for treatment.
While there, Prendergast’s group claims the little boy was examined by Dr. Sally Smith, who was the subject of a 2020 USA Today Network investigation after she was accused of being “too quick to diagnose child abuse,” which Smith has denied.
Investigators looked into hundreds of Smith’s cases and discovered more than a dozen cases where charges were eventually dropped, but the caregivers’ names were permanently tarnished.
Dr. Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.
CPS and armed Pinellas County Police officers reportedly ordered Mercado and Deener out of the hospital almost two weeks after Amen’Ra was admitted, citing allegations of “trespassing” and “severe malnutrition.” Their son was released in late March and immediately placed in foster care by CPS.