Jerimiah Johnson was charged with murder after his 4-year-old stepson, Jaycee Eubanks, was beaten to death in his Brooklyn apartment on Sunday morning. The city Medical Examiner’s Office said that he died of battered child syndrome with blunt force trauma to the torso. His 27-year-old stepfather was identified on Wednesday morning.
According to police, Johnson had been previously reported for allegedly abusing the young child, as well as Jaycee Eubanks’ 6-year-old brother just weeks before the boy died. The NYPD was alerted on Aug. 26 after daycare workers noticed a bruise and a scratch on both children. Unfortunately, the case was botched after officers missed warning signs during the investigation.
After an interview with the non-profit Safe Horizons, both boys were allowed to go back to their home with their stepfather, Jerimiah Johnson, despite clear signs that abuse was present in the household. Officers were accused of writing off the complaint without following procedures. It was alleged that had the officers done their jobs correctly, a follow-up with the family would have been warranted.
A source told reporters that “they failed to schedule a forensic pediatrician examination on the kids. They failed to talk to neighbors. They failed to submit a domestic incident report. If they did, a domestic violence officer would have visited.” It was suggested that if the proper protocols had been followed, the tragedy might have been prevented. Now Jerimiah Johnson is in custody after Jaycee Eubanks was horrifically murdered.
At the time of his death, the 4-year-old’s mother was reportedly holding him outside their home on Baltic Street in Gowanus early Sunday morning. At around 5:00 a.m., police spotted the woman waving them down with the dead child in tow. NYPD officers performed CPR on Eubanks but were unsuccessful. The child was rushed to Brooklyn Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
It was also reported that at the same time the boy was rushed to the hospital, another 911 call claimed a man was attempting suicide at the same Brooklyn address. The man was later identified as Jerimiah Johnson and he was taken to NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn. It wasn’t clear Wednesday afternoon if he remained under psychiatric evaluation.
According to police, while the panicked mother attempted to receive aid for her unconscious child, she also told officers that her son had been violently abused. While investigating the attempted suicide, officers also visited a neighbor’s apartment where Eubanks’ 6-year-old brother was hiding. The boy told police that his stepfather had assaulted his younger sibling.
One neighbor, identified only as Hinda, told reporters that during the commotion they “heard a lot of screaming. ‘He can’t breathe, he can’t breathe,’ that’s what I heard. I was sleeping, and I was so scared to go out and see what was going on.”
Hinda added that “a woman was screaming, a man was screaming. There [were] a lot of people.”
It wasn’t immediately clear Wednesday what happened to spark the horrific incident. Right now, the boy’s mother has not been charged with any crimes.
After the boy’s tragic death, investigators began to look into the previous abuse investigation. While it was alleged that officers neglected to make a referral for a medical exam, an NYPD spokesperson claimed that they did make the referral. The spokesperson said that the cops weren’t sure if the exam was actually given.
In a statement from the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, the spokeswoman neglected to address the medical exam. Instead, she said that “Our top priority is protecting the safety and wellbeing of all children in New York City. We are investigating this case with NYPD and we have taken action to secure the safety of the other child in the home.”