Officer Cassie Barker of Long Beach, Mississippi, has been fired. An investigation into the death of her little girl, who Barker left in a car seat in her patrol car for four hours, is being conducted by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the Sun Herald, the Board of Aldermen, acting on a recommendation by Long Beach Police Chief Wayne McDowell, voted unanimously on Tuesday to fire the 27-year-old officer. Barker has 10 days to file an appeal of her termination with the Civil Service Commission.
Officer Cassie Barker had been on paid leave while investigators look into the death of her daughter Cheyenne Hyer, 3, on Friday. Barker is alleged to have left Cheyenne in her patrol car for approximately four hours while she visited Sergeant Clark Ladner, 36, at his home in Kiln. Ladner was one of Barker’s supervisors, and the two had just completed a night shift together.
Ladner told investigators that he went home after work, but Barker came to his house unannounced shortly after he arrived. He also said that he had no idea that Cheyenne was in Barker’s car while she was inside his house.
When police officers, called to the residence by Ladner, discovered the little girl in the back of the patrol car, strapped in a car seat, she was unresponsive. After transport to Hancock Medical Center in Bay St. Louis, Officer Cassie Barker’s daughter Cheyenne was pronounced dead. Inquisitr reports that a large number of deaths of children left in hot cars occurred in 2016.
As part of their investigation, officers will take a look at Barker’s history with Cheyenne, who was removed by DHS in a prior incident.
The Sun Herald reports that Officer Cassie Barker was suspended without pay for one week in May 2015, which extended her probationary period as a new officer for 90 days. The suspension occurred after Barker was cited for failure to follow all laws in any municipality, city, or state and for conduct unbecoming of a police officer. McDowell would not go into specifics, instead only alluding as to the nature of the prior incidents, but saying that he believed the past violations should be taken into account by investigators.
“There was circumstances around that disciplinary action that I felt were pertinent.”
The neighbors of Ladner told WLOX they are stunned. Betsy Nugent, who lives in Kiln, spoke to the station.
“In our small community, it really bothers all of us parents as to something like this. It’s devastating.”
Results of the autopsy, which was completed on Tuesday, have not come back yet. Coroner Jim Faulk of Hancock County sent Cheyenne’s body to the medical examiner’s office on Monday morning to be autopsied.
Hancock County Chief Investigator Glenn Grannon told WLOX that it appears as though Cheyenne died of overheating, despite the fact that the A/C in Officer Cassie Barker’s patrol car was running when police approached it Friday afternoon.
In the meantime, officials will continue their investigation, which includes taking a look at any prior allegations against Barker.
“It is an active investigation. It hasn’t been determined which way we will go, but it doesn’t look good. We’ll see which way the evidence takes us.”
Long Beach Police Chief Wayne McDowell said the death of Cheyenne is being investigated internally among his officers. Ladner will remain on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation, according to the Sun Herald. Regardless of the outcome, McDowell said that officers are supposed to transport their children in their patrol cars only when driving them somewhere on the way to or from work.
McDowell said the death of Cheyenne has affected him greatly, especially because he is a new grandfather himself.
“Personally, as I said earlier, there is no excuse for it and I believe those responsible should be held accountable. If that means charges, it means charges.”
The father of Cheyenne, Ryan Hyer, has started a GoFundMe account to help with the burial expenses for his daughter.
The autopsy results are expected sometime this week. Depending upon the results of the investigation, criminal charges may be filed against Officer Cassie Barker in the death of her daughter.
[Featured Image by Anton Prado PHOTO’S/Shutterstock]