Wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2-year-old’s fentanyl overdose

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A federal lawsuit alleges Kern County Sheriff’s Office deputies are responsible for the death of a 2-year-old boy by allowing him back into the home of his “abusive father,” where he came in contact with fentanyl.

Filed in February, the wrongful death suit says the mother of Ezekiel Rivera argued with the child’s father, Raul Rivera, during a custody exchange on June 3.

Deputies were called and, despite seeing Raul Rivera holding a bag containing a white substance, knowing of his prior drug history and being warned by the boy’s mother, they didn’t remove Ezekiel from his custody, according to the suit.

Two days later, deputies were again called to the father’s home on Sentido Drive, where Ezekiel Rivera was found unresponsive. Emergency medical workers were unable to resuscitate him.

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It’s alleged hours passed before 911 was called after Raul Rivera found the child unresponsive. Coroner’s officials Ezekiel died from fentanyl toxicity.

Rivera, 24, is charged with first-degree murder and child cruelty and has a hearing scheduled next week.

According to the lawsuit, harm or death could be anticipated if Ezekiel was left in Rivera’s care because “the residence was filled with drugs, Raul Rivera had a history of drug abuse, and Soluna Lora (Ezekiel’s mother) expressly told the deputies about the danger.”

A scheduling conference is set for next month.

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