New York City Studying Child Safety at Shelters After a Death
The New York Times
By WINNIE HU and J. DAVID GOODMAN OCT. 20, 2014
Officers responding to 911 calls found a 3-year-old girl dying, her 5-year-old brother beaten and Mr. Smith on the run. The motive for the killing provided another shock: the rage that ended in the death of the girl, Jeida Torres, was prompted by little more than a pair of soiled pants, investigators theorize.
Mr. Smith, 20, was arrested hours after Jeida’s death at an aunt’s house in Queens, where relatives said he slit his wrists, apparently in a suicide attempt. He will face second-degree murder and other charges, said Kenneth P. Thompson, the Brooklyn district attorney. The girl’s death was ruled a homicide on Monday by the medical examiner’s office, citing the cause of death as “blunt impact injuries of head and torso.” The police said there had been no previous calls about domestic violence at the second-floor apartment, where the recently married couple had been living since July, or calls related to Ms. Torres and her children. A spokesman for the Administration for Children’s Services declined to comment on any previous involvement with the family.
The 5-year-old boy, Andrew, may have sought to intervene on behalf of his sister before being struck himself, officials said. He remained hospitalized at Wyckoff Hospital on Sunday.
Still, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that his administration was doing an internal investigation of the city’s procedures and reviewing domestic violence and child safety in shelters as officials sought to understand what happened, and to prevent it from happening again. “We are all deeply saddened by the senseless death of an innocent child, and we are all responsible for our children’s safety,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. “We must find out what went wrong and what we could have done differently to avoid this terrible outcome.”
Camille Rivera, a deputy commissioner for the Department of Homeless Services, said the agency would take immediate steps, including reviewing intake procedures to get more information about any domestic violence and child abuse histories, and reviewing tools to assess and better understand family dynamics and any potential safety threats to children or caretakers.