A Tulsa family reaches a settlement with the Department of Human Services. The family of Keenan Taylor had sued DHS after the two-year-old boy was killed by his father. News On 6 anchor Scott Thompson reports the boy died three years ago and The News On 6 has been investigating ever since.
The Oklahoma Commission for Human Services approved the $160,000 settlement on Tuesday. Neither side is commenting because of confidentiality, but it could signal the close to a tragic story.
Keenan Taylor was nine days from his third birthday when he died. His father, Carlis Ball, was convicted of killing the toddler by pouring boiling water on him then waiting nearly a day to call 911.
"When DHS put him in a different system, this kid lasted for six months. They gave him six months to live," said Keenan's grandfather, Archie Taylor.
Keenan's grandfather places the blame for the two-year-old's death clearly at the feet of DHS. A News On 6 investigation last fall uncovered the disturbing details leading up to Keenan's final days.
In December 2004, DHS ordered Keenan removed from his mother's custody. He was sent to live with Ball. Six months later, Keenan was dead.
"This case was not handled according to DHS's established policies and procedures," said Lisa Smith with the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth.
The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth found evidence that DHS workers mishandled reports or, in some cases, made them up. On one occasion, DHS was called to investigate Carlis Ball's home after receiving complaints that Keenan had open sores on his legs and the home smelled of urine. A caseworker claimed to be at the home the day before the report and found nothing unusual. But, a supervisor could never confirm if the caseworker had ever been to the home or actually saw Keenan.
A spokesman for DHS declined to comment on the latest decision, but said it did not include an admission of guilt. The attorney for Archie Taylor says the settlement doesn't make him pleased. He's still grieving the loss of his grandson.
The DHS employees overseeing Keenan Taylor resigned shortly after his death. State officials say they are working to lighten the load for caseworkers, but many fear that won't be enough to keep it from happening again.
The settlement still has to be approved by a federal court, perhaps within the next month.
Watch the News On 6 Special Report: The Death Of Keenan Taylor
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9/27/2007 Family Suing DHS After Child's Death
6/14/2005 Funeral Service Held For Burned Child