Father arrested for allegedly breaking infant son's ribs

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Benjamin Joseph Cooper By Andrew Michalscheck Benjamin Joseph Cooper By Andrew Michalscheck

YOUNGTOWN, Ariz. -- A Valley father is facing a felony charge for allegedly abusing his 5-week-old son.

According to police, 19-year-old Benjamin Joseph Cooper was arrested Wednesday for squeezing his child and breaking several of the baby’s ribs.

Cooper is also accused of dropping his child in his crib, causing a bruise to the baby’s face.

On Wednesday, a social worker with Banner Thunderbird Hospital contacted the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and reported that a baby had been brought in on Tuesday for dehydration, failure to thrive, and a bruise on his cheek.

During an examination it was determined that the baby also had broken ribs.

Investigators spoke with a doctor at the hospital who said the broken ribs were most likely caused by someone squeezing the child. The doctor added that the bruise on the baby’s face was not consistent with the parents’ statement that it was caused by a pacifier.

Investigators spoke with Cooper and his wife at the hospital, and they denied deliberately harming their child. Cooper, however, said the bruise on their baby’s face happened when he accidentally dropped his child in the crib and the baby hit his face on his pacifier.

Police spoke with Cooper a second time at his home, which is when they told Cooper that his child’s broken ribs were the result of being squeezed too hard.

Cooper reportedly admitted that he must have broken his son’s ribs by swaddling the baby too hard.

Cooper was subsequently arrested and taken in for further questioning.

During a recorded interview, Cooper allegedly changed his story and claimed that the bruise on his son’s face took place on October 13 when the child hit his head on the wooden part of his crib, not a pacifier. 

Cooper went on to say that he became frustrated on the night of October 12 because his son wouldn’t stop crying.

Cooper, who said his wife was sleeping at the time, claimed that he had swaddled his son in a blanket, squeezing it around the baby’s body.

Cooper said he heard a popping sound and then the child stopped crying. Cooper said he never told his wife about what happened.

During the interview Cooper began crying and claimed that he was sorry and never meant to hurt his son.

He added that he was just frustrated because the baby wouldn’t stop crying, and that his wife had no involvement in the child’s injuries.

Cooper was subsequently booked into jail on one count of child abuse.