OAKLAND -- The family of a 23-month-old boy who was shot in the head 10 days ago said doctors claim the child is brain-dead and should be removed from life support because he likely will not survive.
Hiram Lawrence Jr. will turn 2 on Dec. 28, and sources who know the family have said they want to keep the boy alive at least until his birthday.
Pastor Roosevelt Taylor from the Tower of Faith Ministry in Oakland, who is the family's pastor, said doctors at Children's Hospital have told the family that there is no activity in the boy's brain and that he is "in paradise."
At a news conference Wednesday, the boy's mother, Brittany Houston, fighting back tears, said she is pleading with doctors to wait to do tests that would determine if the boy has brain activity. It was not clear if the tests, which are part of a process to declare him legally dead, were done Wednesday.
The boy was the most critically wounded of the seven people who were shot by at least three men on the night of Nov. 28 in the parking lot of the State Market Liquor store, where the group was filming a rap music video. A 23-year-old man was released Wednesday from a hospital, but a 16-year-old boy and a 24-year-old woman remain hospitalized in critical but stable condition and are expected to survive.
Houston said her son arrived at the hospital screaming for his parents but has since remained in a medically induced coma. Still, she is holding out hope that he will recover.
"He is moving his hands a lot. And when his dad comes in the room and talks to him, his blood pressure goes all the way up," Houston said. "When he leaves the room, it goes back down. I think it is a sign that recovery is still possible."
Taylor said the family has retained Oakland attorney Ivan Golde, who has written a letter to the hospital asking doctors to allow for more time before removing him from life support. Golde said he doesn't yet have enough medical evidence to file a lawsuit that would seek an injunction or emergency order to stop the hospital from taking the boy off life support.
Golde said the family's pediatrician on Wednesday met with doctors at Children's Hospital to determine if the child is brain-dead. If the pediatrician disagrees with the conclusions of hospital officials, there might be enough evidence to keep the boy on life support. A decision could be announced later this week.