A toddler was trapped with the dead body of her mother in a room inside a city homeless shelter, her father claimed in court papers. Lyric Laboy was 15-months-old when East River Family Center workers found her in a room with her mother's corpse. According to the city's medical examiner's office, Shelbi Westlake, 26, died of an overdose.
According to Lyric Laboy's father, the workers found her huddled under a bed on July 25 beside her mother's dead body. The baby was 'covered in human feces' and badly dehydrated. The baby's father, Quraan Laboy, 31, is now suing the City of New York and the Department of Homeless Services for $5 million in damages.
The agency refuted the father's claim that the baby was left with her mother's corpse for five days. It did not, however, specified the number of days. The incident is under investigation. The agency further said that the shelter is now required to conduct same-night wellness checks for any resident who didn't sign the nightly roster.
The couple was separated
According to the father, Quraan Laboy's attorney, Seth Harris, Westlake lived with her daughter in an apartment-like unit at the shelter at 325 East 104th St. in Manhattan. The couple was separated.
No one knew about Westlake's death until her neighbor reported a 'foul odor' coming from her unit. Westlake had last signed on July 19, six days before her body was found.
The baby has separation anxiety
The father, Quraan Laboy noted in court papers that the baby was rushed to the hospital but hasn't fully recovered yet. She lost seven pounds during the harrowing episode and suffers from separation anxiety. "I don't know how long she will suffer from this. She has a lot of separation anxiety," Quraan said.
His attorney Seth harris said that the baby has been 'routinely slapping her dad while he's sleeping to make sure he's alive.' "She always wakes up in the middle of the night, she's kicking, she's fighting, saying, 'Mommy,' I look at her and I just start tearing up sometimes," Quraan said.
Allison Keenan, another of Laboy's attorneys stressed that letting an infant remain with her dead mother for five days unnoticed not only 'highlights the indifference and lack of humanity shown to those most in need but exhibits complete malfeasance by the City of New York and Department of Homeless Services.'
Quraan said that he left his job at the New York City Housing Authority to take care of his daughter full time.