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City Launches Probe Into Death of 5-Year-Old Jamaica Boy

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | January 25, 2017 4:17pm
 Michael Guzman was found unconscious inside his home on 109th Street after his mother called 911 Sunday, police said. He was later pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.
Michael Guzman was found unconscious inside his home on 109th Street after his mother called 911 Sunday, police said. He was later pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.
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QUEENS — The city Department of Investigation is probing Sunday's death of 5-year-old Michael Guzman in Jamaica after his family had been visited 13 times by the Administration of Children’s Services in the past, officials and sources said.

Michael was found inside his home on 109th Street, between Inwood and Liverpool streets, after his mother called 911 around 4:15 p.m. Sunday, police said.

Emergency personnel performed CPR on the boy, but he was later pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital, the NYPD said.

Sources told DNAinfo New York that the boy's mother, Phyllis Reinoso, 30, told investigators that she and the boy's father, also named Michael Guzman, 34, went to visit friends the night before, leaving their son with his five siblings, ages 15, 12, 11, 9 and 2.

When they returned around 2:30 a.m. they checked on the boy and he seemed fine, the couple told police. 

Michael's parents said that around around 11 a.m. Sunday the boy was still sleeping. When they checked on him again at 4:15 p.m., his mother found him unconscious with vomit coming out of his mouth, sources said.

The boy, whose body showed no visual signs of trauma, had a prior medical condition involving epileptic seizures, law enforcement sources said. 

The family, who had only recently moved to Queens, had a history of domestic abuse, sources said.

A spokeswoman for the medical examiner said that the cause of death has not been determined as of Wednesday morning.

As part of the probe into the child's death, the DOI said it has requested access to all ACS records related the case after case workers visited 13 times, according to DOI Commissioner Mark Peters.

According to published reports, eight of those visits found evidence of abuse or neglect including not giving children proper food and clothing, physical trauma, including cuts and bruises, and one of the children being sexually abused by a relative.  

The boy's parents were questioned by police in the 5-year-old's death, but they were released and no charges had been filed as of Wednesday, officials said.

Peters said in a statement that DOI will also “track the other cases we have opened involving children who have died and were known to ACS, including Jaden Jordan and Zymere Perkins.”

“Reports on these children and at least five others are expected to be completed in the near future,” Peters said.

“We are focused on the critical issues of whether there continue to be systemic and preventable problems at ACS that place children in danger and whether ACS has implemented necessary changes noted in DOI’s prior investigations," he added.

ACS did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment Wednesday, but on Monday its spokesman said "we are saddened by this troubling news and are investigating the circumstances leading to this child fatality, along with the NYPD.”

The boy's cousin started a GoFundMe page Sunday to help cover funeral costs.

"My lil cousin fell asleep today and never woke up, he's 5yrs old and was such a sweet heart," the page read. "Any little bit counts so we can get a funeral together and let lil Mikey rest his soul."