One Florida family has suffered a devastating legal blow, months after their two-month infant was left unattended and died while in the custody of a state-licensed daycare. A grand jury voted not to indict the establishment caring for the child, despite the fact the local police department is still investigating the case.
According to an exclusive interview with WCTV, Mar’Tasha Robinson relied on the recommendations of friends before enrolling her newborn in Hugger Family Daycare in Perry, Florida. She dropped her daughter, Jersi Dior McKnight, off at the in-home daycare on Aug. 9 at 8 a.m., never to see her alive again.
While under the care of the family-run business, the Florida Department of Children and Families reported that Robinson’s daughter “was pronounced deceased after she was found unresponsive in a mop bucket when she reportedly rolled off of a changing table while at a daycare.”
Perry Police Chief Jamie Cruse shared that his department was notified by someone at the daycare around 3:30 p.m. about a child in crisis. However, Robinson reportedly found out about an incident with one of the children from another parent.
After receiving the frantic call, Robinson said, “My heart stopped.” She added that when she arrived at the residential business, despite seeing an “ambulance … detectives and police lights,” she didn’t realize the severity of what was going on. She didn’t even know it was her child.
However, upon walking through the door, an officer explained to her that her little girl had been in an accident after being left unsupervised. Young Jersi Dior was later pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital by the authorities.
“That alone — leaving her — is just negligence,” Robinson declared.
The child’s parents, Robinson and Jonathan McKnight, hosted graveside services for their princess on Saturday, Aug. 14, at 11 a.m. at Springhill Cemetery and were hoping to get justice. However, to their dismay, a grand jury voted 10 to 8 to not charge the daycare owner on criminal charges.
Members of the family have spoken out about their displeasure with the grand jury’s decision.
A 2 month old Black baby girl intentionally left by herself on changing table drowns in a mop bucket her first day at #HuggerFamilyDaycare , a state-licensed facility inside a Perry home, on Aug. 9, 2021. in Perry, #Florida. The daycare owner faces no charges. #JusticeForJersi pic.twitter.com/5caC23RMvC
(@BlackMarzMedia) November 24, 2021
Jersi Dior’s aunt, Katrina Cook, said that she still is in shock and had hoped she heard the ruling incorrectly. Walter Bishop, the child’s great-grandfather, colorfully expressed what he felt was disregard for Jersi’s humanity.
“That’s just like taking a bucket of water and throwing it out in the yard, and when it’s dried up, it’s over with,” he said. “My grandbaby was way more than a bucket of water.”
It is unclear if the Hugger Family Daycare is still open. Atlanta Black Star attempted to contact the business, but its telephone line was disconnected.
Since the incident, the family has found out that the daycare had been cited as “non-compliant” twice by the state, including violations involving seven children under the age of three. The establishment, according to its operational license, had the capacity to care for only 10 children.
The Perry Police Department has kept the case open and is continuing its investigation to find out what happened to Jersi Dior on her last day. The police are not the only ones who want answers. So do both of her parents.
“I need some answers. I need some answers,” Robinson said. McKnight repeated the sentiment of his child’s mother, and added, “She won’t be forgotten. Justice will be served.”
The family has hired an attorney and is filing a civil case.
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