Watchdog: CPS violated rules before girl, 2, died

Zaeyana Driggs-Threats (undated courtesy photo) and her father Deshawn Threats. (August 2013 mug shot from the Kent County Correctional Facility)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A state watchdog agency that investigated after a Grand Rapids toddler died found the Kent County Department of Human Services, which runs Children’s Protective Services, violated rules prior to the girl’s death.

Zaeyana Driggs-Threats, 2, died of internal bleeding in August 2013. She had bruises on her face head, arms, torso and lower back, and dried blood on her lip, court documents show. An autopsy showed she had rib fractures from between four and six weeks prior to her death.

Police arrested Zaeyana’s father Deshawn Threats and charged him with murder.

There were previous domestic violence issues in the home. Target 8 wanted to know if CPS did its job to protect Zaeyana and her siblings.

The Office of Children’s Ombudsman (OCO), a state organization that provides oversight of CPS, investigated and found the Kent County DHS did not comply with policies, procedures and state law.

The watchdog agency did not spell out what mistakes CPS made, but did outline its recommendations to prevent a similar incident.

About five months before the death, CPS became involved with the family when Zaeynana’s baby brother tested positive for marijuana at birth.

CPS says Zaeyana’s mom canceled several counseling sessions and had minimal participation in the ones she did attend.

Four months later, a personal protection order was filed against Zaeyana’s dad by her mom. In it, she wrote that she was scared Threats would end up killing her or hurting the children, but she continued to live with him.

Court documents show Threats has a criminal history of domestic violence, but Zaeyana’s mom did not tell CPS about any domestic problems.

Following Zaeyana’s death, investigators also found her brother had four fractures in his leg.

After investigating, OCO recommended CPS personnel review and comply with the policy that says a CPS investigation report must be used for all CPS investigation narratives.

The OCO also reminded Kent County CPS that state law requires it to refer cases to the county prosecutor if there is evidence of child abuse/neglect.

The watchdog agency also recommended that every effort be made in the future cases to interview alleged domestic violence victims separately from alleged abusers.

DHS responded to the OCO’s recommendations, saying it held a mandatory training meeting to review those policies.

Other children have been removed  from their mother following Zaeyana’s death. She is working to regain custody.

Deshawn Threats is due back in court next week as the murder case moves forward.

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