By Carol Marbin Miller
The Miami child abuse investigator who resigned under pressure last May after an infant she declared “safe” was later baked to death in a sweltering car had been working for two years without required certification — a violation of state law.
Shani Smith, a Department of Children & Families child protective investigator in Miami, was accused in May of concocting the results of a substance abuse evaluation that concluded the mother of Bryan Osceola did not have a drinking problem. The mother, Catalina Marista Bruno, had been found in February passed out at the wheel of her car — after striking several buildings — with an unsecured Bryan sprawled on her lap in the front seat of the vehicle, which was still running. The Florida Highway Patrol had called DCF’s abuse hotline to report the incident.
Smith is apparently not the only DCF abuse investigator or supervisor who lacks the required certification. A department email refers to Smith as “one of the individuals” who had maintained a full investigative caseload while failing to complete the requirements for certification.