It was a normal shift for Los Angeles Police Department officers Ivan Ibarra and Alex Frazier — until they got a domestic violence call that would turn into a life and death situation for a 3-week old baby.
When Ibarra and Frazier arrived at the scene, they knew that the situation was dire.
“There was a baby who was unresponsive,” Officer Frazier tells PEOPLE. “When we got there, my partner noticed that baby wasn’t breathing and was turning purplish-blue. It was bad.”
Police allege that the baby’s father, William Lemuszetino, was arguing with the mother of his child. At some point, cops say he picked up the infant. The mother of his child allegedly pleaded for him to give her back the newborn. In response, Lemuszetino allegedly “spiked his baby to the ground like a football,” according to the police report.
“Our focus was the baby,” Frazier says. “I wanted to take the baby from his mother, but she didn’t want to give him up. She thought he was dead and was grieving.”
Fortunately, Officer Ibarra spoke Spanish and was able to explain to the mother what was happening. “She was cradling the baby,” Ibarra tells PEOPLE. “At first, she told me a brief story of what happened. I told her we needed to get the child. There was some hesitation, because this is a mother who is holding what might be a dead infant. I reassured her that we needed to see the child, and she handed him to my partner.”
From there, Ibarra called for paramedics and rescue personnel, while Frazier began the process of CPR on the days-old baby. “Once I got the baby, it was like dead weight, for lack of a better word,” says Frazier. “He was limp. He was cold to the touch and lifeless. I didn’t feel any breath. I didn’t feel any pulse or a heartbeat. So of course, I was nervous.”
While Frazier knew that the by-the-book method was to put the baby on the ground, he opted to cradle him in his arms instead. “I just couldn’t put a newborn baby on the cold ground” he says, “so I put him on my forearm and started doing CPR.”
While Ibarra communicated with the baby’s mother and the paramedic dispatcher, Frazier kept doing CPR — and then started seeing signs of life. “It seemed like it took days, but it was probably after about 45 seconds that I saw the first twitch of the lip. I was like, ‘He’s in there! He’s in there!’ Then I saw his facial expression change. He rolled his head a little bit. That gave me hope. I kept going until the paramedics got there.”
When paramedics arrived and took over the care of the infant, officers arrested Lemuszetino and charged him with child abuse. He is being held on $100,000 bond. He has not yet entered a plea, and it is unclear whether he has retained an attorney.
The baby, who suffered bruises, was transported to a local hospital and was released to his mother, who suffered scratches during her fight with his father, police said. The baby is expected to make a full recovery.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
‘That’s Why I Became a Cop in the First Place’
When the incident was over, both Ibarra and Frazier took a few minutes to reflect. “We got back in our vehicle and discussed it, and realized that we had just saved a life,” says Ibarra. “Having small children ourselves, we took it hard. I had to have a moment to myself. I have a 10-month-old and I thought about my own family.”
“We go through so many things on a daily basis,” adds Frazier. “When we take off our uniform and put it in our locker, we try to hang what happened in our locker, too. We have to get them out of our mind. This one is harder to get out of my mind. It was joyous occasion, but at the same time, there’s a picture in my mind of a lifeless baby in my head. It’s hard to deal with.
“Something that gave me some calm was knowing that it was God who saved this baby,” Frazier continues. “I know from my beliefs that God saved this baby. It was his plan for it to happen this way.”
• For more compelling True Crime coverage, follow our Crime magazine on Flipboard
Both Frazier and Ibarra acknowledge that their teamwork helped save the baby. “I was translating, getting the baby from the mother and talking with the paramedics,” says Ibarra. “I was the only officer on the scene who spoke Spanish. We worked as a team.”
“It feels good,” says Frazier. “It was a day where we were able to do something good, and we know we helped someone. That’s why I became a cop in the first place.”