“The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” Film review

Nayeli Gonzalez
4 min readMay 13, 2021


A picture of Gabriel Fernandez in the Netflix Documentary “The trials of Gabriel Fernandez”

By: Nayeli Gonzalez

May 13, 2021 5:30 AM

The abuse story of a little boy in Palmdale Ca made headlines on social media and news channels and made people question the protection the system gave our children. “The trials of Gabriel Fernandez,” tells the story of Gabriel Fernandez, an 8 yr old who was being abused and tortured by his mother Pearl Fernandez and Step Father Isauro Aguirre and captures interviews of the different people in Gabriel’s life that suspected the abuse. The film is based on a true story and it involves Gabriel’s mother, siblings, family, and teacher. The film highlights the abuse Gabriel’s Guardians put him through and how the system and social workers missed red flags. Finally “ The trials of Gabriel Fernandez” The social workers did a poor job of helping Gabriel when big red flags were given to them about abuse. One very effective message of “ The trials of Gabriel Fernandez” is that the child protection systems are bad for children because they fail to help them.

In “The trials of Gabriel Fernandez” the documentary expresses how his loved ones were mad that CPS did not take action in caring for his well-being. Which makes the audience feel sad that CPS wasn’t able to protect Gabriel. In the Third Episode at the beginning of the Documentary Gabriels, cousin speaks on how she would try and spend the night as often so they wouldn’t Abuse Gabriel. The Filmmakers used Pathos to present the message effectively because it makes the audience feel sad that Gabriel’s Family and loved ones had to protect Gabriel and advocate for him when CSP Failed to help him when they were getting calls from family and others. Towards the end of the film, Gabriel's teacher Ms.Garcia talks about having him in class was a joy and how his desk is always going to be there as a memory of his life. This is another effective example of Pathos because it makes the audience feel heartbroken that we remember Gabriel through his seat in class. Ms.Garcia played a big role in reporting Gabriel's bruises and body marks. Gabriel's teacher made multiple calls to CPS to report the things she was seeing on Gabriel's body. If CPS had applied pressure to search his mother and home or even question his mother. Nothing was ever done on the CSP end and this is heartbreaking to the audience because if the child can’t really be the parent or CSP who are they going to rely on.

“The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez” shows credibility because the documentary was based on the trials and the court hearings. The film “The trials of Gabriel Fernandez” uses parts of the court hearing and recording of the La county board supervisor meetings. Throughout the film, they shot clips from the board meetings to capture that Gabriel's case involved the social workers that were on his case. The filmmakers displaying the court hearings make the message effective because it shows parts of it where you hear all the things that were being done to him. The Documentary also uses his actual body charts and shows pictures of his bruises. Along with interviews of nurses that witness the moment. The filmmakers used credibility to get their message across that CPS failed Gabriel because in the documentary they show his body charts and the markups in his body charts of the places his body was physically abused in. There were body charts that social workers did not use to mark up his abuse because a social worker would have noticed that he was being abused because his body chart was marked up previously.

The trials of Gabriel Fernandez captured the frustration of the community and the people involved in the case. Many people in Gabriel’s life were frustrated that nothing was done for Gabriel till the very end because his case and CPS had so much pressure from the public. Jackie Lacey District attorney speaks on the graphic photos and when she hears his name that’s what comes to mind that CPS could have done something. The filmmakers use Pathos to get across the frustration people had and anger to hear that CPS and social workers let his abuse grow over the months he suffered. The frustration in the film shows the CPS failed him and that if they would have paid closer attention to the red flag he was giving like his bruises and not showing up to school this wouldn’t have led to his death. Gabriel’s death making headlines and his community coming together for justice. After Gabriel’s death was all over the news channels and social media anger, frustration, hate grew towards CPS. This made people question CPS and if they were actually there to help our children. Similar stories to Gabriel started to come up and shine more light onto our system and started to question whether children were being protected.

After watching the film I realized that there are people in our Child Protections system that do their job poorly and are not effective at helping the kids. The documentary brought out to light many of the things that CPS was hiding. In the documentary when calls were being made by Gabriels teacher and being ignored then to later realize that his body chart was filled with mark ups of areas his body was physically abused. As a View it made me question why was the body chart filled up and never was done to help stop the abuse at home. Then this led to more things happening at home for example When Gabriel’s mother had him locked up in a cabin drawer and CPS had done a check-up and didn’t come in to search the place.

In conclusion, The trials of Gabriel Fernandez does a very effective job of explaining where child protections failed to help Gabriel and how Ethos and pathos help the film get that message across to views.