HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) — The man charged with murder in the death of his 2-year-old daughter after a chase and SWAT standoff on Monday is expected to appear in court for his first time Wednesday.
Bond was set at $1 million for 25-year-old Deontray Flanagan on Tuesday, even though the suspect did not appear in court on probable cause.
The 2-year-old’s family told ABC13 they had concerns for their safety for several days before the standoff erupted.
At about 10:15 a.m. Monday, Flanagan reportedly took his daughter from daycare and led police in a pursuit, which escalated into a standoff in northwest Harris County.
ABC13 spoke to the mother of 2-year-old Zevaya Flanagan, who obsessed over her daughter’s last moments of life, which she saw on FaceTime during the police chase.
“She was on her knees, and she was gasping for air, and he had his arm around her neck which squeezed her tighter,” recalled Kairsten Watson, Zevaya’s mother. “She said, ‘This is what you made me do. All you care about is that man.’ She (I was) telling him, “No. Stop it, please. This is your daughter. She loves you,” and she’s still doing it.
The chase ended after Flanagan reportedly crashed into other cars and stopped in a field at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church near the Stuebner Airline and Veterans Memorial, resulting in a stalemate. SWAT officers surrounded the vehicle, and after about 20 minutes, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said they had moved. The little girl was taken out of the car by the authorities and taken to hospital, where she later died.
According to the prosecution documents, Flanagan struck his daughter with and against a blunt object and also choked her to death.
The little girl’s aunt didn’t know what the 2-year-old might have felt in her last moments.
“He was probably just thinking, ‘Why?’ Like, ‘Dad, what did I do?'” said Kaci Watson. “And she did nothing. She did nothing but love him and be a joy to the world, and he’s just an evil person.”
Watson is frustrated officials waited to move when she says every second counted.
“I’m telling the officers, ‘Look at this FaceTime. Move over. Move over,'” Watson said. “They sat there and said they have to get everyone ready, and they have to put on their shields and all this extra stuff like it’s not killing her during this FaceTime call. They waited at least 20 minutes to transfer.”
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said they are also conducting an internal investigation to determine whether policies and procedures are being followed.
In a statement, they said, in part:
“The investigation will include a thorough review of timeline, camera footage, dispatch communications, and radio traffic. Both HCSO and the Houston Police Department responded to the scene. Both agencies coordinate regularly, and this review is conducted to evaluate all actions taken and to improve future collaboration.”
However, this is only the beginning of Watson’s frustrations, saying she feels she is feeling a failure by the police which led to the death of her daughter. She said she called the police several times a few days before the killing, worried it might happen. Watson added that she and Flanagan had recently broken up.
According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, they responded to at least two calls for assistance at the mother’s home. On March 15, they responded to a terrorist threat, and on March 19, they responded to phone harassment.
“I told them over and over that something was going to go wrong,” Watson said. “They could have at least tried to find him, but even with his past, no. I said, ‘Are you going to wait until something happens to her?'”
According to the sheriff’s office, the responding deputy consulted with the Harris County District Attorney’s office and it was determined that there was insufficient evidence at the time to support the filing of a criminal charge. A welfare check was also conducted in an attempt to locate Flanagan, but all attempts to find him were unsuccessful.
Watson, however, said she received text messages showing Flanagan threatened to harm her daughter and believes officers ignored her concerns.
“They didn’t believe me,” Watson said. “They thought I was just making it up, and he was the father.”
Flanagan’s criminal history dates back to 2017. According to court documents, he was charged with evading arrest nearly six years ago.
In 2018, Flanagan was charged with assault causing bodily harm to a family member and sentenced to 30 days in jail. That same year, he was also charged with felony damages for driving a car into someone’s house. Records show he’s still on probation on that charge.
A GoFundMe has been created to help the family with funeral expenses.