The father of a toddler who was found locked in a room with the body of her deceased mother has filed a lawsuit against the New York City Department of Homeless Services. Quraan Laboy accused the agency of negligence and indifference for failing to check in on his daughter and her mother, 26-year-old Shelbi Westlake.
The lawsuit says that Westlake had been living in an apartment at the homeless for four months. She last signed in on July 19, but nobody went to check in on her after that. She reportedly died due to an accidental drug overdose. Her body wasn’t discovered until six days later, on July 25, when another resident at the shelter smelled a “foul odor” emanating from the room.
When first responders arrived, they found Westlake’s body and her infant daughter huddled near her corpse. The young girl was severely dehydrated and covered in human feces. She was rushed to the hospital and continues to suffer from the effects of being locked in a room with her mother’s dead body for five days.
Laboy said his daughter slaps him while he sleeps to make sure he’s alive and will call out for her mother in her sleep.
“She always wakes up in the middle of the night, she’s kicking, she’s fighting, saying, ‘Mommy,’ I look at her, and I just start tearing up sometimes,” he added.
Laboy is seeking $5 million in damages.