‘The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez‘ is a harrowing and troubling six-part documentary of abuse, violence, and neglect in the case of an eight-year-old living in Palmdale, California. It is directed by Brian Knappenberger and made available through Netflix.
Gabriel Fernandez was routinely beaten, starved, and locked in a cabinet by his mother and step-father. The documentary follows his story about how he first lived happily with his uncles and then his grandparents after his mother rejects him. After this, his mother gets custody of him so she can get a welfare check. During this time, he is abused and finally murdered by his mom and step-father. Even more disturbing, child protective services were notified, but they did nothing. They were not notified once, but several times by cousins, Gabriel’s teacher, his grandparents, and even a sheriff’s deputy, but the CPS ignored the calls and even covered up their negligence. At the heart of this tragedy is that there is a victim, a young boy who only wanted his mother’s love and the system that let him down.
I highly recommend viewers watch this heartbreaking story. There are monsters in the world and the more human they are, the scarier they are. The story is a little disjointed. It bounces between the story of Gabriel, the prosecution of his parents, and the charges the social workers faced. Sometimes it lost cohesion, but it still kept you enthralled at the horrors this poor little boy faced. While I do recommend it, be cautious. The story is incredibly intense and emotional. In that way, it good to hear these stories so we know that there are flaws in a system that need to be fixed.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong foul language, Disturbing images and content regarding abuse, Violence
Check out the trailer below:
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