The 3-year-old bruised boy found dead in his Brooklyn home Wednesday afternoon died of multiple blunt impact injuries in a homicide, the medical examiner has ruled.
Ethan Ali was found unconscious and unresponsive in his Rockaway Parkway home in Brownsville, and according to police sources, the boy had bruises and welts indicating he'd been beaten with a belt.
Ethan been in the care of his 21-year-old aunt, Christen Dale, sources said. She has been arrested on charges of manslaughter, assault, child endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon, police said Thursday.
Dale was in the home when police responded to the 911 call Wednesday and taken into custody there.
While police were processing the crime scene at the apartment Wednesday, the boy's father showed up and learned what happened, according to sources. He immediately went to the 67th Precinct station.
Relatives of the boy's father said he had been fighting for custody of Ethan.
"He was getting his baby -- he wanted him so bad," said Jennifer Evans, the boy's great-aunt. "Now his child is gone."
Family members said the boy was "vibrant" and that was "very active and loved to play."
Neighbor Elsie Witty's grandchildren played with Ethan and she was still struggling with the news of his death Thursday.
"I can't believe it," she said. "I'm shocked because he's a baby, he don't have no power. He can't fight back."
The child's mother was cooperating with authorities, sources said.
The city Administration for Children's Services said it is working with the NYPD in the investigation into the child's death.