WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Wilmington Police Department is conducting an internal investigation into the actions of one of the department’s lieutenants following a 911 call that reveals he left his 8-year-old child naked and alone in a car while he was inside Ogden Tap Room.
According to the 911 caller, whose name is redacted, the child was locked in a car and “his dad said he couldn’t get out of the car and he has to go to the bathroom.” Editor’s note: the caller initially believed the child was a boy, but the child was a girl.
The call went out on Sat., Oct. 19, at around 5:45 p.m.
The Ogden Tap Room held an Oktoberfest celebration on that day.
“It seems like he is petrified of his dad,” the caller said.
WECT has confirmed the child’s father is Lt. Matthew Malone. A spokesperson declined to comment further due to the ongoing investigation.
“I have no idea how long he was in there,” said the caller. “One of my managers was running trash out to the dumpster and said, I think I swore I heard a little kid’s voice say, ‘help me’.”
“It’s amazing the stuff you have to call police for nowadays, isn’t it?” the 911 caller laments.
According to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, the parents told deputies the child’s clothes got wet. One of her parents took the child to the car, removed her wet clothes, wrapped her in a blanket and returned to the restaurant.
The case was reviewed by the district attorney’s office but a spokesperson for NHCSO said it was determined the incident didn’t meet the criteria for misdemeanor child abuse.
North Carolina’s statute on misdemeanor child abuse states “any parent of a child less than 16 years of age, or any other person providing care to or supervision of such child, who inflicts physical injury, or who allows physical injury to be inflicted, or who creates or allows to be created a substantial risk of physical injury, upon or to such child by other than accidental means is guilty of the Class A1 misdemeanor of child abuse."
Several states have laws against leaving a child unattended in a vehicle; Kidsandcars.org shows North Carolina does not.
The case was turned over Pender County Department of Social Services, because that’s where the family resides.
WECT has requested Malone’s personnel information made public under state law. This story will be updated when it is received.