The county has told four employees they will be fired after an investigation into the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez, the Palmdale boy who was found tortured and murdered, allegedly at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend.
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services had case workers assigned to Fernandez, and there had been repeated complaints of abuse before paramedics were called to the home to discover the boy unconscious with BB pellets in his chest and groin, a fractured skull, broken ribs and burns, NBC4 reports. Fernandez died at the hospital and his mother and her boyfriend were later charged with murder.
DCFS chief Philip Browning recommended the employees be discharged after an investigation into the handling of the case, according to L.A. County CEO Bill Fujioka.
DCFS Director recommends discharge of 4 employees after internal investigation into tragic child death of Gabriel Fernandez in Palmdale.— Bill Fujioka (@LACountyCEO) July 30, 2013
Based on an internal investigation into the child death of Gabriel Fernandez, the County intends to discharge 4 DCFS employees— Bill Fujioka (@LACountyCEO) July 30, 2013
Letters went out to two social workers and two supervisors — the four employees most involved in the boy's case — informing them they would be fired, Browning told the Los Angeles Times.
Browning also told the Times the decision to fire them came much faster than it would have in the past. The Times reported:
In the past, the department would have looked through the entire history of Gabriel's involvement with DCFS before taking action. In this case, the initial investigation focused on the last two years or so to come to a swifter resolution on the fate of the four employees, who were put on desk duty soon after Fernandez's death.
An unknown number of other employees who were involved with Fernandez' case were given letters of reprimand, according to an internal memo obtained by NBC4.