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Shea orders probe into 911 call response at Harlem building where Ayden Wolfe was found fatally beaten a day later

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea during a briefing on Feb. 13.
Photo by Mark Hallum

The NYPD has opened a high-level investigation into a response by officers to the Harlem apartment building where Ayden Wolfe lived a day before the child was found fatally beaten in his apartment, allegedly by his mother’s boyfriend, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced Tuesday.

Shea directed the office of new Chief of Department Rodney Harrison to examine the NYPD’s response on March 5 to the St. Nicholas Houses to ensure that the officers followed “all department procedures, and whether our current procedures need to be revised.”

Wolfe died on March 6, an apparent victim of child abuse. Officers from the 32nd Precinct and NYPD PSA 6 found him with multiple traumatic injuries, unconscious and unresponsive, inside the fourth-floor apartment in the St. Nicholas Houses where he lived. The 10-year-old boy died despite efforts made by the officers and EMS units to resuscitate him.

But the day before, on March 5, NYPD officers responded to a reported domestic dispute at the same location, Shea reported Tuesday.

“The 911 caller could not provide an apartment number, but stated there was banging and screaming heard in the hallway, and that a child was present,” Shea said, citing information in the NYPD database.

The two officers who responded to the March 5 call, the commissioner noted, walked through the fourth-floor hallways where Wolfe’s residence was located and checked for sounds of any physical dispute or struggle, the commissioner said.

During their 12 minutes at the location, he said, the officers heard nothing to suggest there was a dispute anywhere on that floor.

The officers, Shea added, “used their department smartphones to read the narrative of the 911 call and confirmed that no apartment number had been given.”

They even attempted to dial back the number related to the 911 call twice within a span of several minutes, but both calls went straight to voicemail.

“After not detecting any ongoing dispute or contact with a caller, they resumed patrol,” Shea said.

In the end, Shea said, the responsibility for Wolfe’s death rests with his alleged killer — Ryan Cato, 34, the boyfriend of Wolfe’s mother, who was subsequently charged with murder. 

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