Earlier this week, 3-year-old Yaseem Jenkins, who was allegedly used as a “human shield” by his father during a 2019 shooting in Philadelphia, has died.
Jenkins was 11 months old at the time of the shooting.
Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner shared the tragic news during a news conference on Thursday, April 21. Krasner confirmed the toddler’s death.
“We are awaiting a medical examiner’s report on the cause of death, but we have reason to believe the cause of death is his original injury from that shooting,” Krasner explained.
On October 19, 2019, Nafes Monroe took his son with him to a drug deal with Francisco Ortiz, according to Anthony Voci Jr., the chief of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Homicide Unit. In a news conference, Voci said that Monroe was using counterfeit money in the drug deal and believed that his son’s presence would deter violence.
“It’s our belief and our investigation has led us to believe that he intentionally had his child with him when he was making such types of purchases with the idea or belief that if someone saw that he had a child in the car, that they would not fire upon him,” Voci said at the time. “… A human shield is probably the term that I would use.”
A police department spokesperson told NBC News that Yaseem sustained gunshot wounds to his head, torso and the rear of his body. Voci said that the child was not rushed to the hospital after the shooting and was instead driven to a house.
The next month, Monroe was arrested in connection with the shooting and was charged with recklessly endangering another person and endangering the welfare of a child, according to Voci. According to court documents reviewed by TODAY, Monroe pled guilty on both charges.
Krasner did not indicate whether Monroe would be charged in relation to his son’s death. An attorney listed for Monroe in the 2019 plea was not immediately available for comment on Saturday morning.
Ortiz was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and related offenses, according to court documents reviewed by TODAY. According to the documents, he is awaiting a trial scheduled for June 2022 and has pled not guilty to the charges.
Krasner said that Ortiz may also be charged with murder, pending information from the medical examiner investigating Yaseem’s death.
“Our office was already prepared for two separate trials involving the man we allege is responsible for shooting him … If it should turn out that the medical examiner decides Yaseem’s untimely and unnatural death occurred as a direct result of his injuries from two years ago, we will be prepared to additionally charge Mr. Ortiz with murder,” Krasner said.
An attorney listed for Ortiz in the court documents was not immediately available for comment on Saturday.
Krasner described the death as a “tough moment” after offering his condolences to the child’s family. He also confirmed that multiple units have been in contact with Yaseem’s family to offer support, including offering assistance with funeral expenses.
“Yaseem fought long and hard to recover from his injuries while still being the strong happy kid he was but sadly lost the battle yesterday morning,” a GoFundMe organized on behalf of the family read.