CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-Team has obtained exclusive police video showing what happened when citizens found preschool-age kids wandering alone on a cold night near midnight.
The citizens took them into a convenience store, called police, and now the mother of the kids is facing charges.
The incident happened last month near West 35th and Lorain. People pumping gas spotted two children walking alone on the street. One wore shorts with the temperature 27 degrees.
Those witnesses took the kids into the store and called police. As officers got there, body camera video shows them asking, “What's your name? Where's your mommy and daddy? Where'd they go?" One child answered, "Oh, they're not home."
A witness told officers, "We were pumping gas. They was just walking across the street. I'm like, what's going on?”
Police called social workers, and they tried to find the mom and the home for the kids. A report shows 3 hours later, the mother called police to report the kids missing.
Shortly after getting to the apartment, an officer tells the mother, "You're gonna go to jail tonight.”
The mother, Crystal Cook, tried to explain. But police found what she said about the kids “extremely inconsistent.” The apartment was blocks away from where the kids were found.
Cook argued, "I'm a very good mom to my children. My sister was here, and I stepped out. My sister was here with my children.”
But Cleveland police charged her with four counts of child endangering saying two other children had also been left home alone. Court records show police determined Cook “went out to party.”
Reached by text, Cook wrote to the I-Team she has not been convicted, and she’s a good mom. In fact, she is pleading not guilty, and her case is pending.
A spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services says the children currently have been placed with relatives.
A police report shows what happened that night also happened before. Police say last year, the same two kids wandered into the same place. And that report shows, county child welfare workers had a case involving the same mother back in 2016.