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L.A. County reviews possible lapses in death of 2-year-old boy

March 25, 2010 |  8:24 am
Father says he warned of abuse

L.A. County officials are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the case of 2-year-old Deandre Green, who was killed weeks after authorities received reports that he might be the victim of abuse.

Family members 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 he had taken his son to the Hawthorne Police Department in October 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 boyfriend of the boy's mother has been arrested in connection with Deandre's death.

County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes Hawthorne, said he was “very concerned about what happened here.”

An independent county investigator was assigned to review the circumstances leading to the boy's death as a matter of protocol, he added.

Ridley-Thomas said he hoped the probe would explain why the case was bounced from the DCFS to the Hawthorne police and, ultimately, to the Long Beach Police Department, which is investigating it as a homicide because he died in that city.

“It’s not usually the case that you have two different law enforcement agencies involved in a case like this,” Ridley-Thomas said. “The question is whether there was enough communication between the two departments and the county. ... That’s one of the things that I’m very concerned about.”

The office of Supervisor Don Knabe, whose district includes Long Beach, released a written statement saying “the death of any child is a horrible tragedy,” but he declined to comment on the case because it is under active investigation.

“Supervisor Knabe is confident that DCFS takes abuse allegations seriously and investigates rapidly,” the statement said.

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 who passed through the county system since January 2007 have died from abuse or neglect.

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.

-- Tony Barboza in Long Beach

Photo: A family photo of Deandre Green.

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