A father stopped on Interstate 65 in Robertson County, Tennessee, Wednesday afternoon had a permit to transport the 15-week-old fetus he reported was in the trunk of his car, Millersville Police Chief David Hindman said in a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Hindman said the mother miscarried at 15 weeks on December 7 at a hospital in Bowling Green, Ky., and the parents were given the permit from the coroner’s office.
The father and two other men, all from Saudi Arabia, were transporting the baby to a mosque in Williamson County for an Islamic burial ceremony when they were stopped in Millersville.
A language barrier prevented him from showing the officer the permit, Chief Hindman said Thursday.
“What they told the officer is their baby had died. They had processed the body according to Muslim faith,” he explained.
Hindman said the officer, not wanting to interfere with a Muslim religious burial ceremony, decided at that time not to cause a scene with the family in the midst of their mourning, and to let the vehicle go on to bury their child.
While the officer is five months new to the job, the chief says he stands by his employee.
“I stand by my officer and he will continue to be with us here at Millersville police,” he said.
Chief Hindeman called the incident very rare but said he does plan to create a new policy in order to deal with similar scenarios in the future.
Millersville police also say they consulted with an expert in Muslim religious beliefs who said the officer acted appropriately by not defiling the body of the child.
Early Wednesday evening, officers with the Metro Nashville Police Department went to the Salahadeen Center of Nashville, a Muslim community center, in Paragon Mills to investigate if the deceased infant had been buried there. The center’s property contains a cemetary.