LOWER MANHATTAN (PIX11) — A 4-year-old boy’s life was cut short by physical abuse suffered at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend, according to police investigators. On Tuesday, the boy’s father sued New York City’s child welfare agency, saying that it had overlooked evidence of abuse that was so glaring, it indicates that the agency, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), needs a federal monitor over its activities.
Jamal Eubanks is the father of Jace Eubanks, the boy who investigators concluded died of battered child syndrome. On Tuesday, the father was joined by Derek Sells and Mina Malik, leaders of The Cochran Law Firm, at its Lower Manhattan offices.
“I just don’t understand how this could go on with the other cases that they brought to my attention,” Eubanks said at the news conference.
He was referring to evidence that investigators found after the boy’s death on Sept. 12 of last year that showed that Jace’s mother’s boyfriend, Jerimiah Johnson, had a history of child abuse that should have spurred ACS to remove the boy, and his 7-year-old brother, from the home.
Jace’s day care alerted ACS to signs of physical abuse on the boy’s body, including a black eye and other injuries, but when ACS officials interviewed the boy’s mother and her boyfriend, it did not conclude that the situation merited that Jace be removed from the home, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Furthermore, it alleged, ACS officials didn’t probe further into the danger that led to the boy’s injuries, weeks before he died.
“That he had skull fractures, he had rib fractures, and other injuries,” said Sells, the attorney.
He added that the lawsuit is intended to cast a light on systemic failures by ACS.
The lawsuit mentions three other young children who died in ACS care within a month of Jace’s death: Julissia Batties, 7, Legacy Beauford, 15 months, and Aisyn Gonzalez, 4.
“[We] call for an investigation into ACS to see if federal monitors need to be brought in,” Sells said.
In Jace’s case, the abuse happened in the apartment in the Gowanus Houses where he lived with his mother and Johnson, her boyfriend.
One of their neighbors said that the lawsuit was needed, based on her own experiences with ACS as well as her own experience with the boy’s mother, and her home.
“She lived on the fourth floor, and I live on the fifth floor,” said Jennifer Williams, the neighbor. “[ACS was] passing that whole situation to check on me, and I’m safe.”
She said that in her case, she’d suffered domestic abuse, but that the man who’d abused her and her child was incarcerated.
She said that it demonstrates that ACS has a problem, that Jace’s father is right to expose.
For its part, ACS referred PIX11 News to New York City’s Law Department for comment. It said, through a spokesman, “What a tragic and senseless loss. We’ll review the case and respond in the litigation.”
Jeremiah Johnson, the mother’s boyfriend, awaits trial in jail on murder charges. The mother was not charged with any crime.
Sells, the father’s attorney, said that they will seek financial compensation in the case.