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KARE 11 Investigates: Jailed, innocent, in labor – and shackled

Police raided a pregnant woman’s home wrongly suspecting her husband stole a snowblower; she ended up in jail, in labor, and experts say, illegally in shackles.

Brandon Stahl (KARE11), A.J. Lagoe, Steve Eckert

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Published: 10:07 AM CDT October 28, 2021
Updated: 11:51 AM CST November 9, 2021

January 7, 2020, began like any other evening at their Dayton, Minn., home. Faris Hussien sat in his living room playing video games on his laptop; his wife, Sara, 9-months-pregnant with their first child, cooked in the kitchen.

Due in only two weeks, they dreamt of how they would welcome their son into the world. Her husband would be by her side to comfort her, with their family close by, ready to bring him back to a home filled with everything their new baby could possibly need.

“We were so excited to be a family,” Faris said.

Then they heard what sounded like a boom at their front door.

The night would end with 26-year-old Sara alone in the Hennepin County jail, booked for a crime she did not commit, weeping in searing pain and in labor.

Her 26-year-old husband sat behind bars in another part of the jail, arrested after he says he defended his wife and unborn child against what he thought were home invaders.

Instead, they turned out to be police, raiding his home because they wrongly suspected he was working with a small-time shoplifter.

After Sara said she spent the next day and a half begging jail guards for help, her water broke. Then, records and interviews show, she was taken to a hospital shackled to the ambulance gurney and then to a hospital bed.

Credit: KARE 11
Innocent and in the Hennepin County jail, Sara's water broke. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where records show she arrived in shackles.

The American Medical Association calls restraining pregnant women during the birthing process “barbaric.” An expert who reviewed the case says it was a clear violation of state law.

In 2014, the Minnesota legislature made it illegal for jails and prisons to restrain pregnant women unless they were safety and security risks. 

“Based on the facts of the case I have, nothing suggests that it was legal to restrain this woman in the way that she was,” said Rebecca Shlafer, a University of Minnesota Department of Pediatrics assistant professor who was part of a team that advocated for the ban. 

“This is a very clear case in which the law has been violated,” Shlafer said after reviewing the case for KARE 11. 

At the hospital, humiliated, exhausted, Sara said she spent five hours in labor before finally being freed from the shackles. 

She said she begged for her husband to be there, still not knowing why police raided their home in the first place, or even why he was in the jail. 

When Faris called his brother from jail and found out his wife was in labor, he could only sob in his cell, knowing he could do nothing to be with her. 

Even after she gave birth, another two days passed before Faris could post bail and finally be with his family.  

“They took away my happiness that day,” Sara said. 

“I will never forgive them,” Faris added. 

And it all happened over a snow blower.

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