A former Mississippi cop charged with manslaughter for leaving her 3-year-old daughter to die in a hot patrol car has already been released on bond, according to the New York Daily News.
Cassie Barker, 27, turned herself in to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday and was immediately set free on a $50,000 bond. Chief Deputy Don Bass expressed dismay at the low bond, saying he believed the defendant was “a flight risk.” However, Barker’s lawyer struck a release agreement with Hancock County Justice Tommy Carver before Barker arrived at the sheriff’s office.
Barker left her daughter, Cheyenne, strapped in a car seat in the back of her Long Beach Police Department patrol car for four hours on Sept. 30. She left the car running with the air on, but she did not roll down any windows.
Cassie Barker told investigators she went into the home of supervisor Sgt. Clark Ladner to discuss a case after they finished a night shift together and dozed off on his couch. When she woke hours later, she went to check on her daughter and found her unresponsive. The child was rushed to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
An official cause of death has not yet been released, but officials believe Cheyenne died from heat overexposure, with temperatures hitting 82 degrees in Long Beach that day.
According to investigators, Cheyenne was left alone in her mother’s car at least once before. In May 2015, social service officials took the child into temporary custody after she was found alone in Barker’s personal vehicle. The Long Beach Police Department briefly suspended her over the incident.
Both Barker and Ladner were fired from the police force on Oct. 4. Ladner will reportedly not be charged over Cheyenne’s death. He told investigators he took a sleeping pill the morning of the tragedy and did not know the child was in Barker’s patrol car.
Meanwhile, the Sun Herald reports Cassie Barker’s release on bond is not sitting well with Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam. Barker didn’t turn herself in for four hours after the arrest warrant was issued on Thursday, which might indicate she is a flight risk. The fact that she was released on bond after such behavior could make it appear she is getting special treatment because she is a former cop.
“It just smells, and it puts us in a bad light,” said Adam. “Because she’s an officer, we’ll get the blame for that. I’m a little aggravated.”
Cheyenne’s father, Ryan Hyer, told the Sun Herald his daughter was “the most likable little girl you’ve ever seen,” and he is “so angry” about her death.
“I just couldn’t believe it. It’s just hard to believe. I’m trying to get some more information. She was the happiest, bounciest little girl you have ever seen. She loved animals.”
Hyer and Cassie Barker were together for two years but never married. He helped care for Cheyenne while Barker completed police academy training. However, the couple eventually split up, and he left the girl in Barker’s care to return to his hometown of Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
Hyer said he wants to “know more about what happened.” He said he has not yet been able to speak with Cassie Barker because she was hospitalized for emotional stress right after their daughter’s death.
While he searches for answers, Hyer is arranging for Cheyenne’s body to be returned to Florida. She will be buried next to his first daughter, who was stillborn in 2001.
“I will miss my little girl,” he said.
Do you think Cassie Barker is being treated differently because she is a former police officer?
[Featured Image by Brian McEntire/Thinkstock]