Mother of 2-year-old daughter allegedly murdered by father says police failed her

Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Mother of 2-year-old was concerned about her safety days before murder
The Harris County Sheriff's Office is conducting an internal investigation to make sure all policies were followed in the case of 2-year-old Zevaya Flanagan.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A $1 million bond has been set for a 25-year-old father charged with murdering his 2-year-old daughter.

On Monday, at about 10:15 a.m., Deontray Flanagan, 25, picked up his daughter from day care and led police on a chase, which turned into a standoff in northwest Harris County.

ABC13 spoke to the mother of 2-year-old Zevaya Flanagan, who is haunted by her daughter's last moments alive, which she watched on FaceTime during the police pursuit.

"She was on his lap, and she was gasping for air, and he had his arm around her neck squeezing tighter," Kairsten Watson, Zevaya's mother, recalled. "He said, 'This is what you made me do. All you care about is that man.' I (was) telling him, 'No. Stop, please. This is your daughter. She loves you,' and he'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 Stuebner Airline and Veterans Memorial, sparking a standoff. SWAT officers surrounded the vehicle, and after about 20 minutes, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said they moved in. The toddler was rushed from the car by authorities and taken to the hospital, where she later died.

According to charging documents, Flanagan hit his daughter with and against a blunt object and also choked her to death.

Watson is frustrated officials waited to move in when she says every second mattered.

"I am telling the officers, 'look at this FaceTime, move in, move,'" 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 he wasn't killing her on this FaceTime call. They waited at least 20 minutes to move in."

The Harris County Sheriff's Office said they are also conducting an internal investigation to determine if policies and procedures were followed.

In a statement, they said in part:

"The investigation will include a thorough review of the 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 being conducted to assess all actions taken and to improve future collaboration."

However, that is just the beginning of Watson's frustrations, saying she feels failed by police leading up to her daughter's death. She said she called police several times just days before the murder, concerned this 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 service at the mother's home. On March 15, they responded to a terroristic threat and again on March 19, for telephone harassment.

"I told them over and over and over that something was going to be wrong," Watson said. "They could have at least tried to find him, but even with his past, no. I said, 'Are y'all 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 to support filing a criminal charge at the time. A welfare check was also conducted in an attempt to locate Flanagan, but all attempts to find him were unsuccessful.

Watson, though, said she had text messages proving Flanagan threatened to harm their daughter and believes officers brushed her concerns off.

"They didn't believe me," Watson said. "They thought I was just making this up, and he was the father."

Flanagan's criminal history also dates back to 2017. According to court records, he was charged with evading arrest nearly six years ago.

In 2018, Flanagan was charged with assault causing bodily injury to a family member and sentenced to 30 days in jail. During the same year, he was also charged with criminal mischief for driving a car into someone's home. Records show he is still on probation for that charge.

A GoFundMe has been made to help the family with funeral expenses.