Police have arrested the mother of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins, as well as her boyfriend, in connection with the child's death. Zymere died in a Manhattan hospital on Monday with severe bruising to his head and body. Geraldine Perkins, 26, and her partner Rysheim Smith, 42, have both been preliminarily charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child.
A spokesman for the NYPD said Monday that the child had been physically abused in the past. "The body had clear multiple bruising and old scars," he said. "Clearly this child had been mistreated before, and over a long period of time."
The Daily News reports that Perkins, who has five child abuse allegations on her record (three substantiated), told police Smith had beaten the child just before his death—for defecating in an ice bucket—apparently with a broomstick. Smith reportedly placed blame on Perkins, accusing her of reprimanding the child for the incident. Smith also claimed that he left the apartment for a stretch of time, returning to find Perkins attempting to administer CPR. An NYPD spokesman could not confirm these allegation on Wednesday.
Local TV stations captured footage of a broken broom that was reportedly taken in as evidence.
According to the NYPD, officers responded to a 911 call regarding an unconscious 6-year-old boy at 606 West 135 Street in Harlem just before 2:30 p.m. on Monday. When they arrived at the address, apparently the child's home, police were informed that Perkins had already transported her son to Saint Luke's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Neighbors told NBC that they helped Perkins hail a cab to the hospital on Monday afternoon, when she rushed out of the building holding Zymere in her arms. According to witnesses, she said that her son had fallen in the bathtub and wasn't breathing.
"The body was lifeless," one neighbor told the news outlet. "The arms were dangling, stuff like that."
"She got the corner and she dropped to her knees and she said, 'Oh no,'" another neighbor told the Daily News. "A young lady asked if she was OK and she said no."
Zymere's cause of death is pending from the Chief Medical Examiner. The Administration For Children's Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment on any casework surrounding Zymere's family.
Relative Nuni Perkins posted on Facebook on Tuesday, "My nephew Zymere he was taking [sic] from not only me but from a whole host of family that loved him there is no reason for this...."
[UPDATE 1:00]: Appearing on Brian Lehrer's 'Ask the Mayor' segment this morning, Mayor de Blasio fielded questions about Zymere's case, and whether the child's death indicated a failure in City intervention. "The bottom line is, something needs to be done differently here," de Blasio said. While the mayor declined to comment on the specifics of the case, he did say that, "clearly a number of representatives of the government engaged this family at different points along the way."
"We need to figure out if it was a specific missed opportunity or something systemic that we have to fix, and I’m going to be very personally involved in figuring out what happened and how we can improve, because we have to improve," de Blasio added.