Callie Thornton
Father says he warned of abuse

Relatives say police and L.A. County child welfare officials were told Deandre Green, 2, was being harmed before his death.

March 23, 2010
By Tony Barboza and Garrett Therolf

Family members of Deandre Green, a 2-year-old boy who was fatally beaten last week, allegedly by his mother's boyfriend, said they had warned police and Los Angeles County child welfare officials at least twice about possible abuse in the last few months of the child's life.

Deandre's father told The Times in an interview Tuesday that in October, he had taken his son to the Hawthorne Police Department to show officials bruises on the child's chest and stomach. Deandre's cousin said she had called the county Department of Children and Family Services in February to report her concerns.

The cousin, Lavetta Jones, and other family members said their calls went unreturned for weeks. At one point, a someone at the county told them the person they needed to talk to was on vacation, the family members said.

"It wasn't as urgent as it should have been," the boy's grandmother, Sharlynn Pinkard, 43, said. "We truly sensed something wasn't right."

County officials declined to comment immediately on Deandre's case.

It remains unclear exactly what steps authorities took after receiving the allegations of abuse regarding Deandre -- and whether social workers ultimately confirmed the accusations. Under law, police and social service agencies are required to notify each other of such allegations.

What is clear is that Deandre continued to live with his mother and her boyfriend. On Saturday, the boy, who was living in Long Beach at the time, was pronounced dead at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. Officials said he showed signs of repeated abuse, and Long Beach detectives have arrested his mother's boyfriend, Hector Ernest Jr., 26, on suspicion of killing the boy. He is being held without bail.

Deandre's death comes as the county continues to face scrutiny in its handling of child abuse cases. Earlier this month, 2-year-old Viola Vanclief was killed while in the care of a foster family agency that contracts with the court despite a long history of child abuse incidents. About 35 children since January 2007 who passed through the county system have died from abuse or neglect. They have declined to disclose records related to the dozen most recent cases.

Long Beach Police Officer Jackie Bezart confirmed that detectives are examining at least two reports of abuse submitted to the county before Deandre died but said she could not provide more details.
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