JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Months before the death of 5-year-old Zykerria Robinson, her grandparents fought to obtain custody of the young girl, and now, they're taking legal action against the Department of Children and Families.
Zykerria died in October. Her mother, Michelle Cannimore, and her mother's boyfriend, Jonte Harris, are both charged with murder in her death.
On Monday, Zykerria's grandparents announced a judge granted them custody of the young girl's 6-year-old sister.
"It's been a long process but we're happy, and we're glad we have her, and we don't have to worry about anyone else harming one of our grandkids again," said Henry Doyle, Zykerria's grandfather.
According to police, Harris repeatedly hit Zykerria in the head and face. Cannimore left her daughter unconscious for several hours before calling 911.
"We felt something was wrong, but nobody would listen to us," Doyle said.
Safe Haven of Northeast Florida said an attorney who is representing the family is seeking a civil lawsuit against DCF. They claim DCF responded to Zykerria's home on reports of abuse a month prior to the 5-year-old's death.
DCF investigators said they found nothing suspicious. According to police, Cannimore told officers after Zykerria's death that Harris had been abusing her two months before she died.
Doyle believes if action was taken sooner, Zykerria would still be alive.
"You've got lives in your hands and you need to investigate a little more thoroughly before you just write something off," Doyle said. "If they would have fought when we first told them, they probably could have saved her life."
According to DCF statistics, from October 2016 to September 2017 there were:
- 54,727 reports of maltreatment, which is cruel or violent treatment
- 399 reports of physical abuse
- 4,582 reports of sexual abuse