NEW YORK (AP) — New York officials are questioning if a break in the child welfare system allowed warning sings to go unnoticed in the case of a man now charged in the death of his 6-week old son.
Authorities had investigated Teshawn Watkins, 27, four times over allegations of child abuse in the family before the death of his infant son last week, The New York Times reported Friday.
Watkins was arrested and charged in his son Kaseem’s death after the child was found dead in his crib in the Bronx. Investigators had found an undated video on a baby monitor showing the father pressing a pillow over the baby’s head.
Watkins told the police he had put a pillow over his son’s face in attempt to stop his crying and went to sleep. His lawyer, Cesar Gonzalez, said his client was “remorseful.”
Now, officials are looking into whether the city could have done more to protect Watkins’ three sons.
“We need to know how this happened, why this happened, how it was possible this happened,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.
Watkins had been previously arrested twice on charges he had assaulted the baby’s mother.
“It’s clear based on the investigation that there’s a pattern of violence in this home,” Amir Fadl, the prosecutor handling his arraignment, said.
The Administration for Children’s Services, which handles child abuse allegations, had been under immense scrutiny following the deaths of two other children. The state ordered the city to install an independent monitor over the agency that found it had not been performing thorough investigations in all cases.
The agency responded that it had implemented nearly all of the monitor’s recommendations but a spokeswoman declined to comment on Watkins’ case.