The mother of a Las Vegas man who was charged in the death of his 1-year-old daughter — who died in a locked Nissan Altima on Monday night — has spoken out to say her son was not negligent.
Sidney Deal, 27, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with child abuse, neglect, or endangerment resulting in substantial bodily harm after accidentally locking his 21-month-old daughter, Sayah Deal, inside his hot car. He then allegedly refused to break the windows to free her, apparently not wanting to damage the car and believing she was in air-conditioning.
“He asked the officers to help him,” Sidney Deal’s mother Artavia Wilson told KLAS. “My son was not negligent. The way he handled it was not that he cared more about the car. He thought his daughter was in air [conditioning].”
He has yet to enter a plea.
His attorney, Robert Langford, declined to comment.
“I haven’t had an opportunity to meet with him yet," he tells PEOPLE. "We are very early in the process.”
Deal flagged officers to the scene around 3:30 p.m. Monday. The officers offered to break the windows, call a tow truck or get a locksmith for Deal, who had left his keys inside the car, according to the Las Vegas Journal-Review, citing an arrest report from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Authorities said Deal declined and told responding officers the child would be fine because the air conditioner was running. Instead, Deal called his brother.
When the brother arrived and offered to punch out the window, Deal allegedly "stopped him and said he wanted to wait for a tow truck" and "insisted he not damage his new vehicle, stating he had just bought the car and did not have the money to repair a broken window," the arrest report said, according to the Review-Journal.
Deal's girlfriend also allegedly told police she'd called a locksmith, but the dad didn’t like the price they quoted, so he denied their services, the outlet reported.
Police believe Sayah had been inside the hot car for over an hour when an officer finally broke open a window, Las Vegas Sun reported.
By then, Sayah was already dead, according to the publication.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer Larry Hadfield said the officers waited to break in to the car because Deal was adamant about protecting the vehicle, and they could still see the child breathing.
“The officers arrived and they could see the child breathing,” he tells PEOPLE. “The parent was adamant not to break the window. They tried all other means and the officer became concerned and broke the window.”
“It is a tragic event,” he says. “Police encourage parents and friends to not leave kids unattended in vehicles. This is one of those circumstances that could have been prevented."
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“The cops got out and assisted him with the car, and then when he said the air was on, they said, ‘Oh, OK,' — a locksmith was coming,” Deal's mother, Artavia Wilson, said. “My son is a great father … He works. He is a very responsible young man.”
Darius Jones, a neighbor of Deal's girlfriend, told the Review-Journal that he believed what happened was a tragic accident.
“I can genuinely say that since that baby was small, he’s loved on her," he said. "I’ve never seen a bad time when he had that little girl in his possession.”
But the little girl’s mother, Mariah Coleman, 28, said she wants justice for her daughter.
“If you loved and provided for your daughter so much, why did you let her die?” Coleman said at a vigil for Sayah Tuesday night, the Review-Journal reports.
“He had no remorse in his mugshot,” she said. “My baby is gone, and I need somebody to do time.”
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 3.
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