In 2013, 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez died after being beaten, burned, and shot with B.B.s by his mother and her boyfriend. Medical staff said they removed B.B. pellets from his groin and lung in the aftermath. Horrific as his death was, however, what made it so much worse was the fact that it didn’t come as a surprise. Gabriel was tortured and abused for months before his death, and the signs were all there. But the people tasked with protecting him failed to step in and make sure he was safe. And now they’re being forced to answer for that.
What really happened?
This story takes place in Los Angeles, where Gabriel lived with his mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre. He often came to school with noticeable injuries, according to court records, and his teacher had repeatedly reported that she suspected he was being abused. But CPS didn’t seem to be doing anything about it, because nothing changed.
In the end, when EMTs arrived at Gabriel’s home on that fateful day, he had already lost consciousness. Medical staff noted that he had a fractured skull, missing teeth, was covered in bruises and burns, and had B.B.s embedded in his skin. In the end, both his mother and her boyfriend were charged with capital murder. (Both have since been convicted, with the mother being sentenced to life in prison, while the boyfriend has been sentenced to death.)
What did CPS do about it?
As numerous papers mentioned, Gabriel’s death became a “symbol of bureaucratic failure.” According to the prosecutor’s office, caseworkers Clement and Stefanie Rodriguez, and supervisors Kevin Bom and Gregory Merritt turned a blind eye to the mounting evidence that Gabriel was being violently abused.
Records show that Aguirre claims that he suspected Gabriel was gay, and he tortured him for it. Forcing him to eat his own vomit, and to sleep in a small cabinet with a sock in his mouth. There were a total of six separate investigations conducted by CPS workers, that involved visits to Gabriels home. In all six cases, workers signed on on the boy’s safety, despite all evidence to the contrary, and left him in his mother’s home.
What happens now?
According to several judges, the CPS workers involved and their supervisors minimized Gabriel’s injuries, and failed to take necessary actions in a timely fashion. Their negligence cost a child his life, and all four were charged with felony child abuse and falsifying public records. A motion to dismiss was filed, but just days ago, California Superior Judge George G. Lomeli denied the motion, insisting that the charges against them should stand.
This is a very controversial decision, as very few CPS workers have ever been held accountable for their failures before. According to Judge Lomeli, the four defendants showed “an improper regard for human life” and “a lack of vigilance.” If convicted, each faces up to ten years in prison.
CPS has a long history of getting it wrong.
We just don’t understand. On the one hand CPS workers are content to turn a blind eye to terribly abusive situations, leaving children in homes where they are clearly being harmed. And on the other hand, they fight mercilessly to take children from families where they are clearly loved and cared for. It makes no sense at all.
If you and your family happen to be one of the latter – where CPS is hounding and harassing you despite the fact that you’re loving parents who’re doing your best to care for your kids, call us at 866 766 5245. Our skilled and experienced CPS defense attorneys have spent decades helping parents protect their families and their rights. We can help you too.