A former Winston-Salem police officer and his girlfriend were convicted Monday on child abuse charges involving the officer’s son. A Forsyth County prosecutor said the officer put his son in harm’s way when he left him in the care of his girlfriend, even after he was ordered by the court not to do so. And in one of two incidents, the prosecutor said, the child ended up with a broken leg.
The child has consistently said that the girlfriend hurt him, the prosecutor said in a hearing on Monday. And the child’s biological mother told a judge that the boy, now 4, still has nightmares and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
David Benjamin Ingram, 37, a former corporal with the Winston-Salem Police Department, pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor child abuse and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. A felony charge of negligent child abuse was dismissed as part of the plea arrangement.
His girlfriend, Jaimie Leonard Binkley, 33, entered an Alford plea to negligent child abuse, inflicting serious physical injury. That means she didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict her if the case had gone to trial. She had initially been charged with intentional child abuse. Binkley also entered Alford pleas to one count of misdemeanor child abuse and one count of misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile.
Judge Eric Morgan of Forsyth Superior Court gave Ingram a suspended sentence of 105 days in jail and placed him on supervised probation for 18 months. Binkley was given a suspended sentence of up to two years in prison. Morgan also gave her an active jail sentence of four months and ordered her to serve three years of supervised probation.
A condition of her probation is that she is not to have any contact with the victim in the case — Ingram’s son.
The charges all stem from two incidents — one on Oct. 1, 2018 and another on June 18, 2019.
Assistant District Attorney Pansy Glanton said Ingram and his son’s mother, Sabrina Buckner, have a custody agreement. On Oct. 1, 2018, Buckner picked up her son, who was 2 at the time, from Ingram at the Winston-Salem Police Department and noticed bruising on her son’s body. She asked Ingram about it, and he gave several explanations, including that her son had run into a door.
She left and took her son to a McDonald’s restaurant to calm him down and called a couple of friends. She started making arrangements to have her son see a pediatrician but changed her mind and took her son to the emergency room at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Doctors found bruises on several parts of his body, including his buttocks, Glanton said. The doctors consulted with a specialist in child abuse, Dr. Anna Leslie Miller-Fitzwater, who said that the injuries could not have been caused by an accident.
During the investigation, police examined text messages between Binkley and Ingram, Glanton said. They revealed that Binkley was frustrated at having to care for the boy and that she had given him Benadryl to relieve a headache after he hit his head. Binkley also left the house to have a smoothie with her sister. She left her 10-year-old son from a previous relationship to care for Ingram’s son. According to a memorandum from an assistant city manager, Binkley left Ingram’s son with her 10-year-old son for three hours.
Beth Toomes, Ingram’s attorney, said Ingram could not take off from work when Binkley informed him that his child had been injured. It also wasn’t clear if the injury was serious, she said. But Glanton said Binkley should not have left Ingram’s son without adult supervision after a head injury and that Ingram had a responsibility as a parent to immediately go home to see about his son.
Ben Porter, Binkley’s attorney, said that when she made the decision to leave Ingram’s son in the care of her 10-year-old, she didn’t think she was doing a bad thing She now acknowledges she made a poor decision, her attorney said.
The prosecutor said a more serious incident happened on June 18, 2019, around a month after Binkley had the first of the two children the couple would have together. Binkley and Ingram also have a seven-month-old daughter.
At about 8 that night, Ingram, who worked security at the apartment where the couple lived, went on his rounds. At some point, Binkley put Ingram’s son to bed. The next day, the boy had difficulty walking. Ingram took his son to the hospital, and the boy, then 3, told his father that Binkley had hurt him.
Buckner said her son told her that Binkley grabbed his leg and twisted it.
Glanton said investigators still don’t know exactly how the son’s leg was broken but that the boy has consistently said Binkley hurt him.
According to a memorandum from Evan Raleigh, then an assistant city manager, Ingram had been warned not to allow Binkley to care for his son. Ingram told city officials that his child had broken his right leg when his leg got caught in a bed frame. But Glanton said medical officials found that the son’s leg injury could not have been caused by the bed frame.
Buckner said her son is traumatized by what happened. For a month, she said, he had nightmares.
“I pray that they find God because I don’t see how you can be a Christian and do those kinds of things,” she said.