Home / Badge Abuse / 8yo Boy Tortured to Death After Multiple Cops Ignored his Injuries and Allowed the Abuse to Continue

8yo Boy Tortured to Death After Multiple Cops Ignored his Injuries and Allowed the Abuse to Continue

Los Angeles, CA — Gabriel Fernandez was an 8-year-old boy who was tortured to death by his parents. His abuse was reported multiple times by his teacher and others who witnessed his horrifying injuries. However, the system that is ostensibly in place to prevent such abuse ultimately failed. Not one, but nine police officers tasked with investigating Gabriel’s abuse, refused to write so much as a single report that could’ve saved his life.

When he was young, Gabriel’s care was given to his grandparents after his mother, who struggled with drug problems, signed over custody. However, when Gabriel was 8, Pearl Fernandez, his mother, wanted him back. So, she took him.

The first failure of the system happened when Gabriel’s grandparents Robert and Sandra Fernandez, asked the Sheriff’s Department to mediate the custody dispute, telling Deputies Adam Hilzendeger and David Nisenoff that Pearl had a history of neglecting and physically abusing her children, according to a report in the LA Times.

Robert Fernandez had the documentation showing they were the legal guardians of Gabriel. However, the deputies sent to investigate the claims of his grandparents, who told hem Gabriel was being beaten and neglected by their own daughter, ignored the paperwork and allowed the child to stay with his mother.

Only days after moving in with his mother, and her psychopathic boyfriend Isauro Aguirre, Jennifer Garcia, Gabriel’s teacher at his new school, noticed something was very wrong.

Gabriel told Garcia that his mother had hit him with the metal part of a belt so hard that it drew blood. Garcia, the only person in the system who tried not to fail Gabriel, then called the child abuse hotline to report the abuse.

Deputy Imelda Rizo then went out to Gabriel’s home and noted in her computer that she did not observe any injuries. No report was filed.

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Garcia, who was afraid any negative comments on Gabriel’s weekly reports would lead to his abuse, began marking smiley faces to fool his abusive parents.

Garcia would not stop reporting his injuries, and each time she noticed something, she would notify the social workers. On Jan. 29, 2013, after Gabriel had been absent for a week, he returned with swollen eyes and bruised dots all over his face. When asked about his injuries, Gabriel first said that he fell and hit his face.

However, Garcia testified that he later said his mother had made him exercise as punishment and shot him in the face with a BB gun. Garcia, once again, notified the caseworker. And again, nothing happened.

A month later, this poor child, who’d been suffering several months of abuse with no help from those who claim to ‘protect and serve,’ wrote a suicide note.

Deputy Federico Gonzalez went to the boy’s home and determined that Gabriel was all right. Once again, nothing happened.

Two months later, in April, a security guard at the county employment office saw Gabriel there with his mother. The guard, Arturo Miranda Martinez, noticed that Gabriel was severely beaten. He was covered in bruises and had cigarette burns all over his face and head.

Deputy Robin Soukup, the deputy who heard Martinez’ complaint about Gabriel’s condition, screamed at him and noted that a burned child is not an emergency, according to the prosecutor.

In spite of Soukup’s criminally callous dismissal of a child with cigarette burns covering his face and head, Deputies responded once again to Gabriel’s home. Deputy Jonathon Livingston spoke to Aguirre, saw Gabriel and then wrote an entry in his computer log, according to court records. Gabriel had fallen off a bicycle, and there was no evidence of child abuse, the deputy wrote, according to the Times.

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Like all the other deputies who’d been dispatched to this boy’s home, Livingston ignored the signs of abuse and refused to file a report.

“It is unclear why a child being burned all over his body is not an emergency,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Jonathan Hatami wrote. “It is unclear why a police report was not filed and if the security guard was interviewed by Deputy Livingston.”

Had any of these officers taken the time to only file a single report, there would have been a paper trail of previous alleged abuse, and Gabriel could’ve been saved. But the officers apparently had better things to do.

When Gabriel was absent from school for several days, officials, yet again, sent another deputy out to the house to check on him. Deputy Jason Lee Lasley was sent out to the boy’s home — but never got there.

Lasley couldn’t find the home, so, instead of trying to seek out the boy, who was reportedly burned all over his face, and showed signs of being severely beaten, the cop called his mother to ask if he was okay.

Lasley was told that he moved to Texas to live with his grandmother. He accepted this and, again, did not write a police report.

This visit, or rather, lack thereof, would be the last time police could ignore Gabriel’s abuse.

According to prosecutors, on May 22, 2013, Pearl Fernandez called 911 and told them her son stopped breathing. They determined that this 8-year-old child had been being beaten with a bat, shot with a BB gun, starved, locked in a small box and forced to eat cat feces.

According to the county medical examiner’s report, the boy suffered horrifying injuries and torture. The boy’s skull was fractured, his ribs were fractured and he had BB pellets in his chest and pelvic region. A burn above his groin penetrated all the way through the skin into the soft tissue, reports the Times.

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An investigation into Gabriel’s case revealed a systemic failure from the social workers on down to the deputies. None of the people who are tasked with protecting this little boy did so much as fill out a single piece of paper that could’ve saved his life.

Not one of the nine deputies involved in the neglect faced criminal charges either. The department simply issued a statement saying that some of them have been internally disciplined.

It is important to note that while police have escaped all criminal charges, the social workers have all been criminally charged. But, it was the police who ignored the paperwork in the beginning that allowed Gabriel to stay with his abusive parents. Apparently, blue privilege extends into all areas of police misconduct.

How is it that more than a dozen people, in a system ostensibly set up to prevent such horrifying things from happening, could allow this abuse to end Gabriel’s life? The answer is not very complicated.

“Law enforcement treats these crimes like second-class crimes,” said Dan Scott, a retired sheriff’s sergeant and longtime child abuse investigator. “Cops believe it is a social worker’s job. They are looking for a reason to clear the case, and as a police officer, you have got to treat child abuse like any other crime.”

Perhaps if Gabriel’s parents had been accused of having an illegal substance in their home, police may have taken more interest in the case. Apparently, however, they had no time to concern themselves with the insignificant fact of a child being tortured to death.

  • john smith

    cant have it both ways
    take the children or dont take the children

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      It does seem that this site spends a LOT of time condemning social services and suggesting they need to slow their roll and stop snatching up children for every little reason.

      • Cup_of_STFU

        There is a middle ground, but law enforcement fails to figure this out. It’s either go overboard or do nothing. Whichever is easier or more fun.

    • IceTrey

      No, take the children who are being tortured don’t take those playing in the backyard unsupervised. In other words do the job correctly.

      • john smith

        thats clearly logical but…
        who defines if a kid is being tortured
        clearly there need to be a huge discussion.
        and not here in chat

        • FiuToYou

          When his teacher makes an observation and it’s reported, there should be serious follow through. Take the child back to the grand parents immediately!!

          • MrRetloc

            This case clearly indicates the Grandparents had custody! Mom – strike that – the test tube that gave birth; simply took the child. The police simply ignored the LEGAL STANDING of the grandparents.”It is important to note that while police have escaped all criminal charges, the social workers have all been criminally charged. But, it was the police who ignored the paperwork in the beginning that allowed Gabriel to stay with his abusive parents. Apparently, blue privilege extends into all areas of police misconduct.” Personally, since it seems police have disregarded the validity of COURT ORDERS, I would file criminal charges, naming the department and all officers, including the Chief, as co-respondents.

      • It does seem that CPS will take children from their parents over everything except actual child abuse. I found it most appalling that the mother took the child even though the grandmother had legal custody and the police did nothing about that. The mother should have been charged with kidnapping.

  • ivanacardinale

    American dream or nightmare? Thanks God I wasn’t born in the United States

    • Richard Stewart

      Don’t blame you and your comment at all. America has become a living shithole period….and it is going to get far worse…. It is sad that the American people don’t understand how much of a shithole they live in.

      • Guy

        Well, evidently you and ivanacardinale, prefer your own shit holes over ours. Please do us all a favor, and stay in yours. I realize we have problems and it’s got a bit stinky at times for sure ! But you two, would just add more of a larger stink too what we allready have, and would not help at all ! Thank’s and have a nice day !

  • The Cat’s Vagina

    This does present a STARK contrast to the recent story of a guy being arrested after his kid walked to school on the wrong day.

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  • Liz O’neill

    i don’t care what anyone says, if this poor little boy had been white, the cops would have taken it more seriously, I hope every one of them suffers the way that poor little child suffered.

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      So you’d think, but white children tend to have white parents and in the grand scheme of The System, Adult > Child.

  • Dan Quixoté

    The formula is simple – Whatever is unjust, that’s what they’ll do.

  • FiuToYou

    So sad! This countries whole social welfare system needs a whole new make over. The mother, DEATH SENTENCE within six months, live on cable TV!!! Maybe that will wake up some monsters!

  • Steve Rusk

    The war on drugs has priority, things like child abuse, rape and murder have to wait until resources become available.

  • MrRetloc

    SELF PERFORMANCE REVIEW
    FAILS, MISERABLY!

    Let me preface my statement by openly recognizing the Good & Bad on both sides of this conversation. Adversarial relationships demand mutual respect for opposing points of view; best achieved through understanding and reason, not coercion and intimidation. Our society resists commands of immediate and complete obedience to authority. “Drill Sergeant” tactics belong at boot camp; not on the streets of a freedom loving nation. Law enforcement must resist the use of force in favor of de-escalation FIRST! Absent CLEAR AND PRESENT EVIDENCE OF DANGER; sincere and truthful discourse achieves clarity and understanding. Anger and belligerence elicit only fear and distrust; and yes, coordinated resistance.

    All that said, given the current climate of fear and loathing on both sides, change is indicated. I submit the public must reaffirm those rights assigned to us by the Constitution, and take up the duty to JEALOUSLY GUARD OUR FREEDOMS against the excesses of those who govern. Having sworn an oath to protect and defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic; does not imply, nor infer enemy status on citizens. Just as a badge and gun, DO NOT GRANT EXTRA RIGHTS! Forbearance, on the part of law enforcement, must be exercised first. The use of force cannot be tolerated; absent “reasonable” suspicion: perceived or preconceived suspicion FAILS MISERABLY as justification for use of force. The duty to apply force, ABSENT MALICE AND ANGER, must be observed at all times. Public trust has suffered terribly in the past decades and the burden rests on law enforcement to demonstrate worthiness.

    In pursuit of Justice and Accountability, may I suggest the following?

    “Internal” Affairs investigation … defines the issue which impedes the growth of the public trust, thus complicating law enforcement efforts. #WeThePeople can never trust that an unbiased finding will be reached. Police, Policing Police? What’s wrong with this picture? Completely independent review eliminates any doubt of a Conflict of Interest, inherent with self-examination. The sort of Conflict of Interest, all too often resulting in the public perception of Justice NOT served. A “slap on the hand” and weeks of paid vacation for the offense of man-handling a paraplegic grandmother, or back-shooting that fleeing subject; all in some perceived “fear for my life” smacks of special treatment.

    We are beginning to witness; some jurisdictions restrict the use of firearms (no more firing at an occupied vehicle, absent being fired at from inside that vehicle); and the banning of “Choke Holds”. Rules of engagement certainly must undergo review nationally.

    Fully independent methodology must be developed that supports shared confidence of balance and depth of investigation, leading to enhancement of public safety, strengthening the public trust, and steadfast belief that a truly fair AND impartial outcome has been reached. Independent Investigation; inclusive of all interested parties, lends credibility to any outcome. In addition, it will place officers on notice that Abuse of Power will not be tolerated. The persistent refusal by Police, to recognize the moral imperative to breach the “Blue Wall of Silence”, in support of the Faithful execution of their Oath to defend and protect our Constitution: obstructs the pursuit of Justice. It becomes incumbent on #WeThePeople to claim our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; imposing OUR will upon those entrusted with awesome powers reserved for only the most trustworthy. Peaceful coexistence, demands forbearance and restraint from all parties;most importantly, law enforcement. Public trust demands a dogged investigation and verifiable transparency throughout the review process, whenever force is employed; whatever the circumstance.

    “…it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty or the capacity for self-government.”
    Quoting the Texas Declaration of Independence of March 2, 1836

  • barbara lee

    Death sentence for the mother. Plain and simple. Make it very public. Repercussions for those who let this continue as it did. Such horrors perpetrated on an innocent child deserve no less. No friggin leniency or “addiction is an illness” crap. This is murder of an innocent and should be treated as such.