A Black man says a deputy told him he would never again see his son during a traffic stop in North Carolina earlier this month. And he says he hasn't had custody of his 9-month-old in the three weeks since. Raymond Cheley Sykes, 34, and Kaila Boulware, 27, of New Jersey say they were traveling to Florida to visit relatives on Dec. 3 when they were pulled over in Troy, NC, reports NJ.com. They say a deputy swung a baton at Sykes' face, though he blocked the hit with his arm, after the couple raised concerns about a search of their van, which their lawyer says resulted only in the discovery of a CBD tea. However, no video footage exists to back up their story, and the sheriff's department provides a very different account. The department claims the van was being driven suspiciously around 3am before the stop revealed "an odor of marijuana," followed by the drug itself.
The couple refused to comply with a search and were removed, the department says, alleging that Sykes "assaulted a deputy by hitting him with his fist." Sykes and Boulware, both of whom are Black, were taken to jail while their son was handed over to social services. The local agency described his parents as homeless and having mental health issues in a court petition, per NJ.com. But the couple say they've passed mental health and drug screenings and their NJ residence is listed in the police report. One issue is that the child was born at home, and the couple hasn't yet gotten a birth certificate. The couple has been been living in a NC motel while fighting to regain custody of their son, whom they've been able to visit six times. A GoFundMe page is providing updates of the legal fight. (Read more North Carolina stories.)