ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a case that shocked the community. A 2-year-old was beaten to death by her father, Michael Garcia, inside the family home near San Pedro and San Antonio back in 2021. The child, Diana McGroy, and her four young and vulnerable siblings were placed in Garcia’s home by the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department.
Attorneys said it happened despite several warning signs. “Before they placed them with Michael Garcia and afterwards, CYFD had information that suggested this was not a safe place for them,” Kelly Sanchez, one of the attorneys said.
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Now, the guardian of the surviving children and the person representing Diana’s estate have filed a lawsuit against the state agency claiming they failed to protect her. According to the lawsuit, police told CYFD not to place the children with Garcia because of his lengthy criminal and domestic violence history, and an outstanding warrant.
Garcia also had previously been investigated by CYFD for allegations of physical and emotional abuse. “It’s frustrating in this situation, first that CYFD ignored the concerns of law enforcement and moved forward with placing these children in a home like that, and then again they ignored continued concerns,” Sanchez said.
They hope this lawsuit will get policymakers talking and bring change to the system so this tragedy never happens again. “At its core, this is what CYFD should be doing, right, protecting the most vulnerable children in our community, and there was no reason that they shouldn’t have in this case,” Ryan Villa, the attorney representing the estate said.
Michael Garcia pled guilty earlier this month to 2nd-degree murder along with other charges. He will be sentenced on Sept. 29. “The prosecutors in the criminal case did an excellent job in bringing about criminal justice but now it’s time to address sort of why they were there in the first place and how we can protect children in the future,” Sanchez said.
News 13 reached out to CYFD about the lawsuit, they said they can not comment on pending litigation.