What to Know
Zymere Perkins, 6, died last week after being found beaten and bruised
The boyfriend of the dead child's mother allegedly attacked the 6-year-old after he defecated in their living room
Both he and the boy's mother were arrested and made their first court appearances Monday
The man accused of abusing his girlfriend's 6-year-old son before the boy was declared dead at a local hospital had family members support him in court Monday.
"It's not him. I don't know why they're portraying him as a monster, he's not. He loves kids," said Thiara Fortune, stepdaughter of 42-year-old Rysheim Smith.
Smith is accused of repeatedly hitting Zymere Perkins with a broomstick in his Hamilton Heights apartment on West 135th Street last week, then hanging him by his shirt over the back of the bathroom door, according to a criminal complaint.
Smith was allegedly angry at the boy for defecating in the apartment, the boy's mother, 26-year-old Geraldine Perkins, told police.
Smith continued to beat the boy even after he went limp, then carried the boy to the bathroom and hung him by his shirt on the back of the door, according to the complaint. He then left the apartment, and the boy's mother went to take Zymere off the door and put him on the bed, leaving him unconscious.
When she went to check on the boy later, he would not wake up. She rushed downstairs and hailed a taxi to the hospital, where Zymere was pronounced dead, the complaint stated.
Smith's son, also named Rysheim, told NBC 4 Monday, "Him around the kid -- the kid loved him. He would tell him about me, when I first met him, the kid loved me."
"I fell to the ground when I saw his picture," Fortune said of watching the news report showing Zymere after his death. "I said, 'This can't be real, my stepfather would never do that."
The complaint also stated the man repeatedly beat the boy in the past and that the mother admitted to hitting him on occasion.
Both Fortune and the younger Rysheim said they never saw signs of abuse.
"I have faith in the justice system they will find the real allegations and fix the case as it should be," said Fortune.