Many people in Marietta heard about the woman who drove to Washington, D.C. with her infant child in the back seat, only to try to drive through a barricade near the White House. She was chased by police and officers shot and killed the woman after she stopped her vehicle. Now that the infant is without a mother, the young girl’s aunt is asking for custody.

A judge has denied the woman’s request and her niece remains in the custody of her father. The woman claims, however, that the father has been absent from the girl’s life and that he is estranged from the mother’s family. They are deeply concerned that the father will withhold the child from them.

Under Georgia law, when a custodial parent is killed, the child’s other parent will typically gain custody of the child. For someone else to gain custody, like a grandparent or an aunt or uncle, he or she must make a strong showing that the other parent is unfit to care for the child. If the previously noncustodial parent had lost his or her parental rights, other family members could more easily step in, but courts try to keep parents and children together.

As for the sister of the woman who was killed by D.C. police, she will likely need to work closely to push for custody of her niece. Though she and her family fear that the girl’s father, a Jamaican national, could leave with the child at any point, they will need to show that it is in the child’s best interests to remain with her mother’s family.

Source: Stamford Advocate, “Baby in D.C. police shooting in custody battle,” John Nickerson, Oct. 11, 2013