A foster father accused of killing the boy he was supposed to be caring for calls it an accident.
Craig Dickens says he became a foster parent to 1-year-old Daevon Branon-Banks after a short interview with Child Protective Services, or CPS, and a background check but no training. Four months later, he was accused of killing the child.
I-Team reporter Vanessa Murphy: “Do you think maybe a class, or some sort of training could have helped you learn how to care for a child and possibly prevent this?”
Craig Dickens: “Very much so.”
CPS will not provide details about specific cases, but a representative says to expedite placement of a child, if potential foster parents know the family, no training is required. Dickens and his live-in girlfriend were family friends.
“He won’t get to run into my arms again and I won’t be able to kiss my baby again because somebody took that away from me,” said Gabrielle Branon, Daevon’s mother.
Branon talked with 8 News NOW after her son was laid to rest. She said, someone accused her of driving with her son while high and that’s why her son was removed from her care.
CPS placed him under formal supervision which meant he would at least temporarily live in a foster home, but Dickens says he had a problem of his own.
“I just got off the phone with my mom,” Dickens said. “She even told me, she said, ‘I told you to stop that drinking. Go get some help. Go to AA or something.’ I just never listened.”
And on Aug. 18, before he cared for Daevon, Dickens says he stopped at two bars for several drinks.
“Maybe three to four shots, some beers, maybe a couple of mixed drinks,” he said.
After he returned home, something went terribly wrong.
According to this arrest report, Dickens called 9-1-1 when Daevon was unresponsive and told police he fell out of his crib.
The injuries, a doctor said, were too severe though.
Later, police say Dickens admitted to throwing Daevon twice while he was angry with his girlfriend, but his story changed again with the I-Team.
“It wasn’t out of anger. We were just playing,” Dickens said. “I hope the family can forgive me for the whole situation. It was a tragic accident and I didn’t mean for him to pass like that because that was not my intention at all for that to happen.”
A child taken from one home because of safety concerns and placed in another where he wasn’t safe.
“I honestly could sit here and say I loved him,” Dickens said. “I think about it every day. Every time I wake up in the morning. Like is this a dream or what? But it’s a reality.”
A CPS representative says training is required for people who want to be licensed as foster parents, meaning strangers who are interested in providing homes for the children.
The trial for Craig Dickens is scheduled for July.