Pair Charged After North Miami Toddler Punched in Stomach Undergoes Emergency Surgery

A North Miami man was arrested after he punched his girlfriend's young daughter in the stomach, requiring her to have emergency surgery, police said.

The girl's mother is also facing a charge after police say she tried to cover up how the injury happened.

Tyquan Devonte Spencer, 22, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of aggravated child abuse causing great bodily harm, while 24-year-old Scarlett Ruiz was charged with child neglect causing great bodily harm, according to arrest reports.

"The boyfriend of the mother who lives with the mother and the other children had struck the child the 19-month-old baby and it's unknown how or why the child was struck," North Miami Police Commander Rafael Estrugo said.

The arrest reports said Spencer was alone at the home he shares with Ruiz with her children when an older sibling saw him punch the 19-month-old girl in the stomach. The punched caused the girl to throw up, the reports said.

The sibling told Ruiz, who didn't do anything until the toddler developed a fever, which was misdiagnosed as an infection after Ruiz failed to tell medical staff of the possible trauma the girl suffered from the punch, the reports said.

They left the hospital but returned two days later when the girl's symptoms worsened. Doctors discovered she had a perforation of her small intestine and she underwent emergency surgery to repair the injury, the reports said.

Police said Ruiz had also coached the older sibling to deny what she saw to investigators. Spencer denied hitting the child, the reports said.

"It's a 19-month-old baby and is extremely disturbing to even think about someone putting a child in that way," Estrugo said.

Spencer was being held on $10,500 bond Thursday, Miami-Dade jail records showed. Ruiz was being held on $7,500 bond. Attorney information wasn't immediately available.

"She's a great mom, like, I don't think she hurt the baby but somebody did," Ruiz's sister-in-law, who didn't want to be identified, told NBC 6 Thursday.

Family members said the paternal father of Ruiz's children was killed in a car accident last year.

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