A Georgia mother who was arrested for allowing her 10-year-old to get a tattoo said she had no idea it was illegal for him to get one, even with her consent.
When Chuntera Napier’s son Gaquan Napier asked her if he could get a memorial tattoo for his 12-year-old brother Malik who died after being hit by a car, Napier was touched by the request.
“My son came to me and said, ‘Mom, I want to get a tattoo with Malik on it, rest in peace,’” she told ABC News’ Atlanta affiliate WSBTV. “It made me feel good to know that he wanted his brother on him.”
When Gaquan Napier was asked why he wanted the tattoo, he said, “Because it represents my brother.”
“What do I say to a child who wants to remember his brother? It’s not like he was asking me, ‘Can I get Sponge Bob?” Napier said. “He asked me [for] something that’s in remembrance of his brother. How can I say no?”
Gaquan got a tattoo on his right arm of his brother’s name and his former basketball jersey number. Napier also has memorial tattoos for her son on her right arm.
When someone at his school noticed the tattoo and contacted authorities, Napier was arrested on Tuesday and charged with misdemeanor cruelty and being a party to a crime, according to WSBTV. Napier bonded out of jail on Wednesday but is shocked that her consent was not enough for her son to get a tattoo.
“I always thought that if a parent gave consent, then it was fine,” she said. “How can somebody else say that it’s not okay? He’s my child, and I have the right to say what I want for my child. I can’t go tell anybody else what I want for their child.”
A Georgia law from 2010 states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to tattoo the body of any person under the age of 18, except a physician or osteopath.”
Police say that Napier has refused to cooperate in naming the tattoo artist who could also be prosecuted for violating the law.
Acworth Chief of Police Michael Wilkie told ABCNews.com in an emailed statement that the tattoo appeared “to be the work of an amateur” and said one police theory is that when Napier took the child to get a memorial tattoo similar to her own, she discovered it was illegal and took him somewhere where it could be done “illegally like a ‘jail house’ tattoo.”
“Unfortunately, the mother has elected not to cooperate with the police any further in this investigation,” Wilkie said. “The tragedy of this is that the child’s tattoos are some sort of memorial to a sibling who was lost in a car accident a few years ago. I understand from the investigators that there are several memorial to the deceased child in the apartment where they live. It may be that professional or religious counseling for their/her grief would be more helpful than anything.”