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Connecticut police officer forms strong bond with baby girl he saved five years ago: ‘We’re family’

The strong bond between a Connecticut police officer and a baby girl whose life he saved five years ago continues to shine a light on the power of human connection over all else — including people’s individual backgrounds and races, he said.

“Everybody’s lives changed for the better that night — especially mine,” Det. Michael Harton of the North Haven, Connecticut Police Department told Fox News Digital. 

“We’re all human. We get so involved in the drama of the world. It’s nice to be able to take care of each other, no matter where we come from or what our situation may be.”

Harton, a police officer for 27 years, was on duty at a movie theater on March 4, 2019, when suddenly a woman came running out of a movie with a baby in her arms.

“She was frantic,” Harton said. “You could tell as soon as I grabbed her that she was in distress.” 

That woman was Nikki Huckaby and the baby was her three-month-old daughter Eimaan, who goes by the nickname Tooka. 

The family was on their first outing since baby Tooka was born prematurely in December.

“She had never been left alone without me,” Huckaby said. 

“So we brought her to the movie. And so I had just fed her, burped her and she was doing fine. But when I went to put her in her chair and was strapping her in, I noticed that she was … not breathing.” 

Det. Michael Harton was on duty at a movie theater in North Haven, Connecticut in March 2019, when a woman came running out of a movie with a baby in her arms.
Nikki Huckaby

Huckaby said she picked her baby up and patted her on the back, but nothing was working. 

“Although I knew CPR,” she said, “in that moment, everything in my mind went blank. I remember thinking, ‘I have to get outside this theater. I know there’s an officer out there.’”

Huckaby found Harton in the lobby area and told him, “My baby is not breathing.” 

“The only thing I could do was call on the name of Lord God, Jesus,” Huckaby said. 

“There was nothing else that I knew to do in that moment.”

The mother, Nikki Huckaby, noticed that her baby daughter, Eimaan, wasn’t breathing after feeding her at the movies.
Nikki Huckaby

But Harton, also a trained EMT, jumped into action, performing a variation of the Heimlich maneuver for infants.

“I started with back blows and that’s when she curled her back up and completely went limp on me,” Harton said. “Then I started doing back blows, chest compressions, back blows, chest compressions.”

Everything went in slow motion, Harton said. 

He had never performed the Heimlich on a baby.

“Talk about a rollercoaster ride of emotion,” he said. “I kept saying to myself, ‘Not on my watch. Not on my watch.’ She was just a peanut. Mom said she was less than 15 pounds. I think she was more like 10 pounds.”

Huckaby remembers being panicked, screaming and praying as Harton tried to save her little girl.

Then, suddenly, there was a cry — and everything was going to be OK.

“Mom hugged me and thanked me,” Harton said. 

“She kept thanking God out loud after and was — and still is — super appreciative.”

Later, a fellow officer told Harton that once the baby started crying, he did not let her go right away, even to her mom.

“I just kept holding her until the medics arrived,” Harton said. 

“When I put her on that stretcher, that’s embedded in my mind like a snapshot. I don’t know if it was the father in me, or the officer in me. I was so scared that she was going to stop breathing. I just couldn’t let go.” 

Dramatic body cam footage reportedly captured the incident from beginning to end, including Huckaby’s tearful cries for help; Harton’s calm, decisive action; and the emotional moment he loaded baby Tooka into the ambulance.

Huckaby called Tooka a “living miracle,” as she’s survived being born a preemie and now this. 

For that reason, Harton gave her the name “Little Angel” — and he could not get her out of his mind.

“I checked in with [the] mom from time to time, but I didn’t want to be overbearing,” Harton said.

“A year to the date, they surprised me with a visit to the police station.”

That’s where a family friendship began. Harton and his wife, Susan, began enjoying dinners with the mom and daughter. 

They were invited to celebrate her birthdays, holidays and special occasions, such as Tooka’s first day of kindergarten last fall.

“We just became part of each other’s lives,” Harton said.

“I started with back blows and that’s when she curled her back up and completely went limp on me,” Harton said trying to save the baby’s life. “Then I started doing back blows, chest compressions, back blows, chest compressions.” Nikki Huckaby

Eventually, Harton became known as “Uncle Mike” to Tooka and her family.

“Uncle Mike is literally around for everything,” Huckaby said. 

“When she was in daycare, he would say, ‘Oh, you have to be good this week in daycare, Angel, so I can buy you a gift.’ And of course the angel was horrible in daycare — and he still bought a gift.”

He checks in to see how her homework is going and how report cards have turned out. 

Huckaby even asked Harton to be Tooka’s godfather — an honor he did not hesitate to accept.

“She’s very bubbly,” Harton said of his goddaughter. 

“She’s super smart. She reminds me a lot of my daughter. That’s why they get along so well together.”

Harton has two grown children of his own — a daughter who is a NICU nurse and a son who is a police officer.

Both are following in their father’s footsteps as first responders.

“It has been so rewarding for us to have all of them [as] a part of our lives,” Huckaby said. 

“And it’s also a story because we come from two different walks of life. We’re from two different cultures, two different races. And for us to come together, especially in the way today’s world is with community and police, it just brings a whole new light to things,” she said.

Harton said he’s seen a lot of “bad stuff” throughout his career in law enforcement

But his encounter with Tooka and her mother put everything into perspective for him, he said.

“In my job, I try to treat people the way I would want to be treated,” Harton said. 

“We have to look out for each other. If we don’t agree on certain things, that’s fine. But let’s all — let’s all get along.”

Huckaby said that’s exactly how Harton operates.

“I’ve never felt judged,” she said. “I’m a single mom and Uncle Mike is her father figure. They treat us like family and are so supportive. Every accomplishment I’ve made in my career, they are excited for me. When I got my new house, they wanted to know what they could do for us. I’m able to provide and take care of Tooka by myself, but it’s good to know that she has that extra support,” she added. 

“I can’t even really begin to explain how wonderful it is to have that.”

Harton and his wife, Susan, began enjoying dinners with the Nikki and Eimaan after saving her life.  Nikki Huckaby

Harton said he’s the one who is thankful — and that he hopes every police officer gets to have a “Little Angel” in their lives.

He said he hopes “our journey will have a positive impact between law enforcement and the community.”

“We’re family. There’s nothing that’s going to take that away from us.”

And that’s something that makes Tooka proud, said her mom.

“When other kids make her mad,” Huckaby said, “she tells them, ‘You know, my godfather’s a cop.’”

Written by New York Post