“American Idol” star Syesha Mercado is raising her voice against the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office after they seized her 10-day-old baby daughter in a harrowing moment captured in a now-viral video.
This is the second child that authorities have “forcefully and legally kidnapped” — as she describes it — under unclear circumstances in the past five months from the 34-year-old Sarasota, Florida native, who finished in the top three during the seventh season of TV’s long-running singing competition.
Deputies surrounded an SUV that Mercado, her newborn baby and her partner, Tyron Deener, were driving in Wednesday morning to conduct a surprise roadside welfare check, as captured in disturbing footage with more than 2.1 million views as of Saturday afternoon. Police then took custody of the infant to bring her to a hospital for a physical, presumably due to prior — still hotly disputed — allegations of malnutrition concerning the couple’s then 13-month-old son.
Mercado and Deener, 36, posted the incident on Instagram with the caption, “THEY TOOK OUR BABY AGAIN!.” The hour-long video shows multiple police vehicles flashing lights while two male deputies serve the couple with a court order to turn over their baby.
“Do you not feel anything? You guys, I’m human. This is my baby. My baby is days old — and you’re taking my baby away from me,” a crying Mercado can be heard saying in the chilling clip before starting to sob as four female child protective services caseworkers stand their ground.
The singer-actress — who starred in Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” in 2014 — and Deener attempt to explain to authorities that they are “compliant and following every law,” adding that their daughter had already been seen by physicians just a day prior.
“You are traumatizing my baby. How could you guys do this?,” a distraught Mercado screams as her daughter is taken from her arms and placed alone in the back seat of a city vehicle. “… You have no heart. This is so wrong. I have the key to this city … I’ll hold it together. I’m strong.”
Mercado was indeed presented a key to the city of Sarasota during her “American Idol” hometown visit on May 9, 2008, which was proclaimed “Syesha Mercado Day” by local officials. She eventually finished third behind David Archuleta and that season’s winner, David Cook, on the show. She went on to headline the 2009-2010 national tour of “Dreamgirls,” which launched at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater, opposite future 2021 Tony nominee Adrienne Warren, who stars as Tina Turner in “Tina” on Broadway.
A decade later, Mercado had to breastfeed her crying baby and provide authorities with a bottle of breast milk on the shoulder of a busy road, The Root reported.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Department of Children and Families have not responded to The Post’s repeated requests for comment. The last listed professional representative for Mercado said “she’s not really working right now” but expressed concern about her situation. Attempts to contact her directly have been unsuccessful.