New York —
Chris Contreras, Gabriel’s uncle, revealed his experiences in an interview with ABC 7 on the 7th anniversary of the boy’s death, due to abuse by his mother’s boyfriend and his own mother
This weekend marks seven years since the child abuse of his parents took the life of Gabriel Fernandez, 8 years old. Her memory has generated positive steps to save children. Those who knew Gabriel spoke to ABC7 about the boy.
“They cannot fight for themselves, they cannot speak for themselves. They need someone else to do it, but especially during this time. You guys need to worry, ”said the deputy district attorney, then. Jon Hatami.
The prosecutor’s crusade to protect the children ignited at the Palmdale complex where Gabriel lived.
Gabriel’s uncle, Chris Contreras, is breaking its silence. He and his wife adopted Gabriel’s brothers, the injured children who were still living.
“Something brings him back. It is all those emotions that are there. It is not easier, ”said Contreras.
Ezekiel was 12 and Virginia 10 when they witnessed the torture inflicted by his own mother, Pearl Fernández, and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre.
The children lived in a house dominated by fear. The minors testified about the bat, the BB guns, the box where Gabriel was confined, the allegations that he was gay. To this day, Contreras says Gabriel’s brothers can’t have fun, no matter how hard he tries.
“Unfortunately, I think this is something that will affect them for the rest of their lives. In one way or another, ”said Contreras.
For him, it is personal. Point to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). “What they did was almost as bad as Pearl and Isauro did,” Contreras told ABC7.
Four were charged, but the appeals court dismissed the case and ruled that DCFS workers had no legal responsibility to care for a child like the parents. A position rejected by Hatami.
“I think you not only have a moral and ethical obligation to save that child, I believe you have a legal obligation to save him. And if you don’t, I think the public should have the right to hold you criminally responsible, “said Hatami.
Isauro Aguirre was sentenced to death. But the governor Gavin newsom, citing his personal sense of morality, he suspended all executions while in office.
Contreras says Aguirre doesn’t deserve mercy, and says the evidence supports it.
“I would show everyone that picture of Gabriel in the hospital. Because no matter how many times I saw Gabriel smile, when I think of Gabriel now, I imagine him in the hospital bed, without waking up.
The memory of Gabriel at home is so painful that they avoid it.
But Contreras says a door recently opened. The Netflix documentary, “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez”, they watched together.
The series originally included the Contreras family, but to allow more time for healing, Contreras requested that that part be removed.
But he saw how it opened minds and hearts. Contreras received a support that he never imagined.
“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken to have chosen a career in social services because they say they want to make a difference,” said Contreras.
“How many people have named their children after Gabriel, my five-year-old’s middle name is Gabriel.”
The “Gabriel Law”
And there is now a new impetus for the “Gabriel Law”. It would give an officer on an abuse call a way to quickly check the history of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and alert the caseworker.
The proposal is driven by Gabriel’s cousin, Emily Carranza, who blames the social workers also for failing to prevent Gabriel’s death.
“They had an advantage, I honestly think they should have moved him and saved him. But they didn’t, “said Carranza.
The DCFS chief told ABC7 that since Gabriel’s death, the system has been overhauled. “We have added thousands of social workers, which has increased our ability to work closely with families,” he said. Bobby Cagle, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
Cagle was not available to answer follow-up questions about two more recent cases of child deaths in cases attended by DCFS, also in Antelope Valley: Anthony Avalos and Noah Four.
“The children continue to be killed. Children continue to be killed. The children are still tortured and this is after Gabriel, “said Hatami.
The power of change, says Hatami, is reflected in a growing monument. Between the toys and the fond memories, a call to save the children before it’s too late.
“I know those who have heard or seen your story. At least those people are going to do their part and I know that the children have been saved because of their history, “said Contreras.