Zachary Taylor Peterson, 24, of Brook Park, was charged with one felony count of first degree assault and one felony count of third degree assault of a victim under age four after a child in his care needed to be airlifted to Children’s hospital for emergency medical attention.  The incident occurred in mid-July. 

According to the criminal complaint filed by the Kanabec County Attorney’s Office, deputies were called to Welia Hospital after a child under age 2 was brought in with severe head trauma. 

Peterson initially told deputies he put the child in a toddler bed, then when he went to pick the child up again they were limp and unresponsive. The child was taken to the hospital. Peterson and the child’s mother told deputies they were concerned the child seemed sluggish/groggy and had a leg issue approximately a week earlier, but was acting normal that day. 

The child’s doctor, who specializes in child abuse pediatric care, did not believe the leg issue was related and described the child’s injuries to be severe and acute — meaning they occurred only minutes to hours before the child was taken to the hospital. 

Peterson spoke with deputies, postulating that the injury was a result of roughhousing among the other children or the dog, or that perhaps they hit a rough bump while walking in the stroller earlier that day. 

While speaking with Peterson, deputies insisted that the description of events Peterson described did not align with the severity of the child’s injuries. 

According to the complaint, after persistent questioning by deputies, Peterson eventually described rapidly picking the child up, swinging the child toward a toddler bed then pushing the child down into the bed with both hands. 

Such an action could have a similar effect as “shaken baby” syndrome. Peterson told deputies he didn’t mean to swing the child has hard as he did. 

The child’s doctor reported to deputies there was a high probability that the child would have died had it not received quick medical attention. As of Aug. 11, the child was still in critical condition. 

The doctor concluded the child suffered a permanent, life-altering injury.  Peterson was charged on Aug. 27. 


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