CLEVELAND — On Tuesday, Cuyahoga County Council approved the settlement proposal that will pay the father of Aniya Day-Garrett $3 million.
"It's been a long process," Council President Dan Brady said prior to calling for the vote, which was unanimous.
Garrett is the 4-year-old girl who died of a stroke in March of 2018, after investigators say she suffered severe blows to the head. WKYC's investigative team found that Aniya was abused as far back as 2015 in the custody of her mother and her boyfriend.
Aniya's father, Mickhal Garrett, filed a lawsuit in April 2019 against multiple individuals from the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, along with two daycares she attended.
Although he was happy that council decided in his favor, Aniya's father, Mickhal Garrett said it won't bring his daughter back.
"There's no amount of money that can replace my daughter. There's not enough. This is not enough," says Garrett.
Mickhal has made it his mission to protect any other child from going through what happened to his daughter. He plans to use the funds to continue his work with the Justice for Aniya Foundation to fight for father's rights, set up safe havens for children and hold social workers and those in child care accountable.
"We want to make sure that this never happens to any other children," says Garrett. He continued, "I'm a man about helping our people, our community and giving back and bringing change. Standing on our word and being those eyes and those ears for those who can't do it for themselves. That's what is most important, saving another life."
In March of 2019, 24-year-old Sierra Day and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Deonte Lewis, were found guilty of multiple charges, including murder and aggravated murder, in Aniya’s death. Day is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, while Lewis will be eligible for release after 20 years.
The attorney for Mickhal Garrett said the initial convictions only told part of the story, and that it was "a village" that failed Aniya. Roughly three dozen individuals and organizations were named in a lawsuit, including Anyia's convicted killers Sierra Day and Deonte Lewis, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, and members of both Get Ready, Set, Grow Preschool and Harbor Crest Childcare Academy in Euclid.
In the aftermath of Aniya's death, records showed a pattern of abuse dating back years, and medical examiners concluded she died of a stroke caused by several blows to the head. She was also found to be emaciated and malnourished.
The suit points to six reports filed with DCFS alleging abuse between Feb. 14, 2017 and Mar. 6, 2018. Despite the reports allegedly being made by Aniya's own father and aunt as well as police and hospital officials, attorneys claim the individuals involved "failed to properly investigate and document the reports of abuse and neglect," and that "the reports were miscategorized and summarily closed without proper investigation."