An employee at a Florida day care center for children was arrested after police say she was caught on surveillance camera footage picking up a one-year-old child and dropping him on the floor, causing him to break his leg. She later hit the same child in the head, authorities say.
Deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday arrested 51-year-old Tampa resident Yamirka Menendez on charges of aggravated child abuse causing great bodily harm, child abuse, and battery.
According to a post on the sheriff’s Facebook page, while working at the Time of Wonder Daycare Academy at approximately 8 a.m. on Sept. 8, Menendez was filmed removing the toddler from a mechanical swing “by his wrists, swinging the child about three feet in the air over a retaining wall, and then dropping the child to the floor.”
“Due to the fall, the boy was unable to stand upright or place weight on his left foot and leg,” the sheriff’s office said.
Based on the video footage and Menendez’s reaction when the child hits the floor, it appears that she intentionally dropped the child. Another employee standing about four feet away appears to witness the incident.
The same child was again in the mechanical swing just after 12 p.m. when Melendez “is seen on video striking the child in the head.”
An hour later, at approximately 1:08 p.m., video shows Melendez feeding a different child who is four-months-old. She is shown feeding the child who was sitting on her lap when she “forcefully grabbed and yanked the victim’s right leg and slapped the child several times.” The same employee who appeared to witness Menendez drop the first child is standing directly next to Menendez and appears to witness her hitting the infant.
The following day, Sept. 9, the mother of the one-year-old who was dropped by Melendez noticed that the child was seemed to be experiencing pain in his left foot. She brought the toddler to St. Joseph’s Hospital where the medical staff diagnosed him with fractures to his tibia and fibula.
The child was examined on Sept. 23 by a medical team at the University of South Florida’s Child Protection Team, who determined that the injuries to the child’s leg were likely the result of physical abuse. The medical team then sent a report to the sheriff’s office.
Time of Wonder provided detectives with their surveillance camera footage, which provided the basis for Menendez’s arrest.
The incident was also reported to Hillsborough County Child’s Licensing.
The other day care employee shown in the footage, who appeared to witness Menendez dropping and hitting the children, was identified as 52-year-old Milagros Rodriguez. Rodriguez was also arrested on Tuesday and charged with one count of failure to report child abuse. Rodriguez was released Wednesday on a $2,000 surety bond.
Menendez is being held at the Hillsborough County jail. Her bond was set at $5,000. Court records do not show whether she retained legal representation.
The sheriff’s office noted that both Menendez and Rodriguez do not have any prior criminal history.