Mickhal Garrett, Aniya’s father, alleged in a 2019 lawsuit that the county’s Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) failed to make a full investigation into reports of Aniya’s abuse.
Cuyahoga County Council approved the settlement Tuesday afternoon.
Garrett told ideastream Tuesday that while the settlement cannot bring his daughter back, he hopes to see reforms within the child services system.
“Bringing change and genuine awareness and preventing child abuse and all violence, that’s what means the most to us,” Garrett said, “and like I said, holding those accountable who did not do their jobs properly for Aniya.”
The lawsuit alleges Mickhal Garrett noticed bruises on Aniya while she was in her mother’s custody. He expressed his concerns in a police report and later in domestic relations court, according to the suit.
The suit also cites an Ohio Department of Job and Family Services investigation that faulted Cuyahoga County DCFS for failing to take into account a history of abuse reports in Aniya’s case.
After Aniya’s death, Cuyahoga County announced a series of policy changes at DCFS, including assigning a sheriff’s deputy to abuse investigations and involving entire families in case evaluations.
Garrett said he’d like to see new laws on the books to ensure county staff and sheriffs “are just following up properly to make sure that children’s lives are actually being investigated and protected properly.”
He also hopes to meet with county officials to discuss how they’ll implement these reforms, according to his attorney, Hannah Klang.
Aniya’s mother, Sierra Day, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Day’s boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, received a life sentence and will be eligible for parole in 18 years. A jury found both guilty of aggravated murder in 2018.
Garrett said he plans to continue advocating for the prevention of child abuse. In 2018, he created the nonprofit Justice 4 Aniya Foundation. He and his fiancée now have a one-month-old daughter, he said.
“All children’s lives matter,” he said, “and I have to be a father first, and making sure that my children and my family are well taken care of.”