Gabriel Fernandez: Cops who checked on boy did not believe he was being beaten, instead they accused him of lying
Eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez was brutally tortured and beaten to death by his mother, Pearl Fernandez, and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre in 2013. The case made headlines given how the system failed to intervene and remove the child from harm's way. Netflix's documentary 'The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez' looks into the tragic case and leaves viewers shuddering at the thought of the brutal torture the child was subjected to. It also leaves many people angry at Child Protection Services which had been involved with the family for a long time but did not do much to actually help the victim.
The extent of abuse and torture
Gabriel was given up by Pearl when he was born in 2005, but she got custody of him in 2012, and had him move in with her and her boyfriend. According to Gabriel's school teacher, the kid would often show up with bruises, scratches, a busted lip, and a swollen face, more often than not. The child was subjected to being starved, beaten black and blue, forced to eat rotten spinach, cat feces, and even his own vomit.
The child was also shot at with a BB gun and hit with a belt. His teeth had been knocked out with a baseball bat, Gabriel's older sibling Ezequiel Fernandez testified later.
Social Workers and Sheriff's Department negligence
Besides the parents, two social workers - Stefanie Rodriguez and Patricia Clement - were charged along with their two supervisors - Kevin Bom, 40, and Gregory Merritt, 64. All four were accused of minimizing the evidence of Gabriel's abuse. Post an internal investigation, all four were fired from their jobs.
According to Gabriel's great aunt Elizabeth Carranza, "The DCFS workers, sheriffs, as many times as they were out and they were called, they ignored him. I believe it was three times that we called the social workers and twice that we spoke with sheriffs. Later when I heard that sheriffs had went out and threatened Gabriel, as if he keeps lying about things."
When asked if the sheriffs had threatened Gabriel, Elizabeth shared, "I guess Pearl had told the sheriffs that some bigger kids had beat him up and thats why he had marks on him. and that wasn't true. The sheriffs put him in the back of the car and told him that if kept lying about things, that he would be the one to go to jail."
Post Gabriel's Death
After Gabriel died, an anonymous source from the LA County Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) came forth to release an official document that showed a shocking pattern of neglect from the organization.
As per the document, the DCFS had been made aware of the torture and abuse taking place at the Fernandez home on many occasions but reports show that little was done to remove the child from the harmful environment. Gabriel's teacher had filed a report as did a security guard from the County Welfare Office but the DCFS did not do much to intervene.