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Independent Investigation of Child Deaths Pending
By Sentinel News Service
Published August 13, 2009

CNS–A county supervisor previewed his proposal for an independent investigation into the deaths of three children, each apparently the subject of reports to the Department of Children and Family Services.

“The County of Los Angeles must do everything it can to determine what happened in these cases, and what lessons can be learned from these tragic events,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said in a statement. “To that end, it is necessary to gather and analyze all the facts and circumstances contributing to these childrens’ deaths.”

Two-year-old Jasmine Granados was found dead early Saturday by firefighters called to a home in unincorporated Athens, the third suspicious death in a month of a child whose treatment had been referred to county officials.

Dae’von Bailey, 6, was found beaten to death in the home of his mother’s ex-boyfriend July 23. The ex-boyfriend, Marcas Fisher, who has a criminal record and was still at large at last report, had been caring for the boy in an arrangement apparently approved by the DCFS.

Lars Sanchez, 4, was stabbed to death by his 42-year-old mother, Yolanda Tijerian, in a murder-suicide July 18.

Ridley-Thomas plans to submit a proposal at next week’s board meeting, that the county’s auditor controller, the district attorney and the DCFS conduct an independent special investigation.

“While there will be a Children’s Special Investigations Unit with a lead attorney and support staff in the near future, we cannot wait,” Ridley- Thomas said. “There is a critical and immediate need for an independent investigation to closely scrutinize all contributing factors, including how DCFS and other involved agencies processed these cases.”

Ridley-Thomas recommended the investigation include:

–access to all relevant information held by any county or private agencies with county contracts, including law enforcement groups.

–in-person interviews with any witnesses and with leadership personnel in the county agencies with significant contact with the children.

He also requested the investigation work toward a set of recommendations to reduce the future risk of deaths due to abuse or neglect.

The supervisor’s proposal will be formally submitted at next week’s board meeting.

Today’s board agenda originally included a report on the status of the hiring of a lead attorney for the Special Investigations Unit, but Ridley- Thomas requested the report be postponed until next week’s meeting.

The supervisor was not in attendance at today’s meeting. He was leading a delegation to the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools conference in Tennessee.L  

Categories: Local

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