Sen. to propose law to protect kids

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The brutal murder of 10-year-old Abdi Mohamud shocked the Queen City. Local officials are now fighting for changes that will make sure a case like Abdi's never happens again.

Abdi was killed by his stepfather, who bludgeoned the boy to death with a rolling pin while Abdi was tied up with a sock stuffed in his mouth. The community questioned why Abdi wasn't better protected when there had been a long history of problems.

Former Erie County Social Services Commissioner Deborah Merrifield, who now works to prevent child abuse and neglect, says all systems in Abdi's case should have been working together.

"It just cries for a more intensive response," Merrifield said. "Particularly law enforcement, schools, child protection, and any other health and social agencies that served him or been able to serve him."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has reviewed all the files, but the county and the state won't make them public.

"We can't go into the details because we're prohibited by state law from talking about the details of the actual investigation," Poloncarz said.

That could soon change with new legislation that Sen. George Maziarz plans to introduce.

"It allows the agencies, both the state and the county, to share and it allows access by the news media to get information," he explained.

But one crucial detail, unknown to Erie County according to Poloncarz, was that Abdi's home had been a day care center licensed by the State of New York and operated by Abdi's mother. Other children were coming into a home where problems were known to exist.

Poloncarz stated, "If we had known that, there may have been greater scrutiny applied to this case than there was in the past."

A year before he was murdered, Abdi had called 911 saying: "Please come fast. It's a matter of life and death."

Buffalo Police responded and then turned the case over to Erie County Child Protective Services. News 4 has learned all the files from this case will be turned over to a citizen review panel that is looking for answers.

Citizen review panel chairwoman Ellen Kennedy said, "If there are things in the system, in the structure, in the policies, that in fact do not help keep children safe..."

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