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Baton Rouge Police

A Baton Rouge father has been arrested after his toddler son found a loaded handgun between the couch cushions and accidentally shot himself earlier this week, according to police.

The child was seriously injured but received surgery and is expected to survive.

Desundre Whitfield, 30, is accused of initially lying to police about where the gun came from, saying someone must have left a gun in the couch, BRPD spokesman Sgt. L'Jean McKneely Jr. said Friday. Whitfield later admitted the weapon was his.

The shooting occurred around 7 p.m. Monday at a house on 75th Avenue near Scenic Highway.

Law enforcement officials initially said they were reviewing the case to determine whether anyone would face charges, noting that Louisiana law offers limited options when it comes to gun safety prosecutions. The state has no laws that specifically address parental responsibility for preventing children's access to guns, placing Louisiana in the minority compared to other states.

Whitfield faces the following counts: improper supervision of a juvenile, obstruction of justice and felon in possession of a firearm.

The improper supervision statute relies on proving the child was injured as a result of criminal negligence, which requires a "gross deviation" below the standard of care expected for another human being, even if criminal intent is lacking.

Police said the obstruction of justice count stems from Whitfield's initial dishonest statements about the gun. 


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.