Nateyonna Banks
2004 - November 9, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial

While doing a search for this beautiful little Angel, I found very little information and only one picture. I guess the facts of the case are what is important. Shandrell Banks was 29 years old when she was arrested for the death of her daughter, Nateyonna. This wasn't the first time Shandrell had been abusive to her daughter and the Department Of Families And Children would investigate thoroughly AFTER her death. It's sad to think that when children die, everyone is willing to look hard at what went wrong, if they were willing to look that hard BEFORE a child dies, their lives would be saved.

On November 8, 2006, Shandrell took Nateyonna to the Hughes-Spalding Children's Hospital after beating her. Nateyonna died the next day and the Medical Examiner said she died of blunt force trauma and that she showed other signs of having been abused, Shandrell had literally beat this precious little Angel, to death.

Nateyonna had been a ward of the state up until July of 2006, when she went to live with her mother. Shandrell's brother called DFACS saying that his sister was suffering from depression and he thought they should take Nateyonna away from her, he never received a call back:

"I ma personally outraged at this point in time which is why I canceled everything
I'm doing this afternoon. I'm giving my immediate attention to it. I have about 15
staff members upstairs and I've begun my own investigation"
DFACS DIrector Mary Dean Harvey

It was reported that the death of Nateyonna came at a time when the Fulton County Welfare Office was making attempts to keep families together rather then sending children to foster homes.

Shandrell was arrested and charged with one count of murder and one count of cruelty to children. Detective Nicole Redlinger said that when Shandrell was interviewed, she was "extremely combative and denying any type of allegation of abuse", however, during a break, she kept saying she wasn't a bad mother. District Attorney Paul Howard said that Judge Wendy Shoob had allowed a tape to be played in court:

"This defendant said to her lawyer, in effect: Let's get this over with right now"

In May of 2008, Shandrell Banks plead guilty to killing Nateyonna and was sentenced to live in prison. After the trial, Paul howard was asked if the child welfare system still believes that at risk children should be left with their families:

"I would like to say no, but this case and other seem to suggest the answer is
yes, children are still at risk"

Shandrell was denying having abused any other children saying other adults had been the ones to do that. DCFS said that Nateyonna should not have been sent back to live with her mother adding that she had a history of sexual as well as physical abuse.

Dena Smith, a spokeswoman for DFACS said that Nateyonna case had cause employees to be disciplined and that some people had even resigned. Federal Child Welfare Authorities eventually find Georgia $4.3 million for their failure to protect the children including finding home for foster children. The Administration For Children And Families, which is part of the U.S. Health And Human Services Department added that the state of Georgia had not done enough to get parents involved in the system and did not adequately provide for the mental and physical health of these children.

B.J. Walker, Commissioner of the State Department Of Human resources agreed that the state of Georgia should be fined for ignoring about 200 steps that had been put into place to improve conditions in the system. Accurate records were not kept on children in the system and some paperwork was missing items such as the addresses where children were living. Since the death of Nateyonna, B.J. said changes had been made and improvements had been made with computers and the problems were being fixed as well as meetings with parents which gave them more participation in plans for the future of the their children. Three workers quit the agency and one was fired after Nateyonna died.

In December of 2007, it was reported that Lawyers who had been appointed to look out for the best interest of Nateyonna, failed to do their job properly when representing her in court hearings. The estate of Nateyonna, represented by Don Keenan of the Keenan Law Firm,  filed a lawsuit against Fulton County's Child Advocate Attorney Office and the Lawyers who represented her.

Don Keenan said that Nateyonna and her mother had a history with the Department Of Family And Children Services, with the children in the home being removed and Shandrell's mental illness as well as drug use. Don said that a study showed that the office of the Child Advocate's was understaffed, under funded and overworked:

"That safety net had a huge hole in it and Nateyonna fell through and died"

Don said that it was his hope that the lawsuit would help repair the broken legal safety net for children. The lawsuit was seeking damaged for the estate of Nateyonna as well as her five siblings. None of the Lawyers that were named in the lawsuit could be reached to give any statements.

Carolyn Banks had been raising Nateyonna since she was a baby and when she went to the state seeking help financially DFACS workers decided she should receive the help she needed. It was in May of 2006 that Supervisors overruled that decision and decided that she would not get the help she needed and that Nateyonna would be returned to her mother even though Nateyonna's siblings had been removed from the home due to her being mentally unstable and using drugs:

"It was poor decision making"
DFACS Director - Mary Dean

Don Keenan said that to sue DFACS would be "futile" and that his focus was on those who were supposed to do their job and protect this little Angel:

"I assume DFACS is not going to do its job. The courts demand, we demand, these
kids get effective lawyers. We can't trust DFACS to do their job"

This page was created on January 12, 2015

Death occurred in the state of Georgia

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