Zymere Perkins was a six year old boy who lived on West 135 Street in Harlem with his mother, Geraldine Perkins (26) and her boyfriend Rysheim Smith (42). His life was cut short on September 26 2016 when he was beaten to death with a broomstick by Rysheim. This could have been avoided if it wasn’t for the carelessness and the unwillingness to follow procedure by ACS workers. On multiple occasions they were called and informed, by Zymere himself and others around him of the danger he was in. According to an article on nycpost.com “Geraldine was the subject of five abuse allegations since 2010”.
In the article by Yoav Gonen, Kirsten Conley and Danika Fears, on nypost.com the “first of five” flags that was ignored was when Geraldine tested positive for pot the day Zymere was born. The second occurrence (but first report of abuse) was in June of 2015. An anonymous caller stated that Smith smacked Zymere “at least twenty times” at a picnic and verbalized threats of an “ass whooping at home”.
Numerous incidents such as the one at the picnic occurred in the following year. Zymere also told a case worker that Smith hit him at his mom’s friend’s house which was never followed up, as stated in the 27 page report from the “States office of Children and Family Services”. He also stated that Smith used harsh punishments when he would “misbehave” such as beating with a belt, fixing him naked into a cold shower (while being smacked in the face by his mom) and making him do five push-ups.
Another way ACS failed was that they did not contact relatives or properly “document why they ultimately found the claim of excessive corporate punishment, unfounded.” Two months after ACS was called again when Perkins was arrested for assaulting another shelter resident.
On September 1st Zymere was interviewed by a caseworker where he stated that he was once more beaten with a belt. He said that it hurt, but he did not cry. After this interview there was no effort to have a full body check done on Zymere to check for bruises and/or marks. From September 2nd to September 21st ACS had no contact with the family.
A supervisor later instructed a specialist to “contact the child’s mother and fathers family to screen for domestic violence – none of this was done”. To add onto the situation the case was closed before the 60 days provided for the investigation of reports.
Unfortunately from this point on Zymere’s situation only got worse.
During a home visit on January 28, 2016 a case planner noticed that Zymere had “no teeth in his top gum”. His mother’s excuse was that he fell on ice at the park. Even after this encounter the case planner still didn’t seek the required elevated risk conference with ACS.
Another incident in which ACS was called occurred when a school staff member notice suspicious injuries within recent months and also reported that Smith was known to be rough with Zymere. It was reported that he had a fractured jaw, scratches near his eye and knocked out tooth. When confronted with the injuries Zymere’s mom stated that he fell off a scooter and Zymere stated that he had fallen in the snow and his cousin hit him in the back; still ACS did not reach out to the relatives or even his doctor directly.
In April 2016 Zymere showed up to school with bruises and scratches on both legs, his mom stated that he was out with his aunt. ACS never confirmed it and the case is closed 23 days after it was opened.
It is reported that Zymere told ACS worker that he didn’t “get to eat good” and that when he is bad he receives bruises on his head and knees.
On July 28, 2016 Perkins met with a case planner for one final time. She stated that they would be moving to Massachusetts on August first. The case planner decided to close the case because of the move, which was never verified. Two months later Zymere’s life was taken from him.
My overall reaction to this case and my findings is pure disgust. Between the unfit parents and incapable ACS workers it seemed like the only people on his side were people who only had the power to report what was happening. The bystanders and teachers are the only ones who appeared to actually care. I’m my opinion there is no reason for Zymere to be dead. ACS had multiple opportunities to help him and ignored every one of them. If they would have followed up on reports and went through with investigations and interviews this case would have had a completely different ending. It frustrates me to know that there are people in the world like Smith and Perkins who have no problem treating a child, someone who has no other choice but to trust them for their needs, like that. If they didn’t want to or weren’t able to care for Zymere they should have given him to someone who would. There are plenty of people in the world who could have given him the life he deserved and it’s upsetting to know that ACS failed him and that he won’t know what it’s like to grow up around loving parents who only want the best for him and will do anything in their power to keep him out of harm’s way. To me, for someone to be only six years old and have endured this much pain with little to know help is tragic. It’s completely unfair that ACS failed help him and many other children like him.