ANDERSON, Ind. -- An internal state report shows caseworkers were looking into an Anderson toddler's injuries months before he died under what police called "suspicious circumstances."
A state report shows that Harlan Haines was brought to the attention of the Department of Child Services on December 27 after he was treated for bruising around his eyes and a fracture to his lower leg.
His mother had blamed the injuries on a Christmas tree falling on him on December 14, according to the report, but a doctor claimed she rarely sees bruising around the eyes and had concerns for the child.
A home visit by DCS on December 28 found Harlan's living conditions to be safe and clean, according to the report.
It was around this time that Harlan's uncle, who was a DCS caseworker, requested to take the child but was denied by the department.
Then on January 1, the report shows that a medical observation report questioned the Christmas tree story, saying the type of injuries Harlan received were not typical with that type of injury.
PHOTOS | Baby Harlan Haines
Harlan died less than two months later.
His uncle, Michael McKnight, has now filed a legal claim against the department claiming they failed his nephew and terminated him unfairly to keep him from accessing the documents relating to his DCS case.
"Baby Harlan deaths need not be in vain," said one of McKnight's attorney BOB Summerfield. "Without question, it's an epic DCS failure they know it and this life needs to be the catalyst. I hope people are listening."
Harlan died in February at Riley Hospital for Children after he was involved in a car crash with his mother's then-boyfriend Dylan Tate.
Court documents described the injuries recorded by doctors on the day Harlan died, including a paper towel that was stuffed down his windpipe.
His injuries included multiple bruises and cuts, many of which doctors claimed were in different stages of healing and not likely from the accident.
Harlan's mother, Jennifer Harris, and Dylan Tate have both been charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death. More charges could be filed at a later date.
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