Two police officers in Mississippi from were fired after they left a three-year-old to die in a hot patrol car on Friday, according to reports. The little girl, who was a daughter of one of the officers, was left strapped to her car seat in the back of the police car for four hours while her mother, Long Beach Police Department Officer Cassie Barker, and Barker’s shift supervisor Sgt. Clark Ladner were inside of Ladner’s house.
When Barker returned to the vehicle, she found her daughter unresponsive. The child was pronounced dead upon arrival at Hancock Medical Center in Bay Louis.
The officers' termination, which was recommended by Chief Wayne McDowell, was effective immediately following a unanimous vote by city council Tuesday night. They were fired for violation of department policies, which McDowell suggested was “conduct detrimental to the public.” Barker and Ladner had been suspended without pay during the investigation of the toddler’s death.
Ladner said Barker arrived at his home Friday morning unannounced following a night shift they worked on Thursday. He told investigators that he was unaware that Barker’s daughter, Cheyenn Hyer, was in the car, the Sun Herald reported.
Although there were no immediate criminal charges, Hancock County Chief Investigator Glenn Grannan told reporters that the investigation was still ongoing and “somebody is going to be accountable for the baby’s death.”
The weather report Friday said temperatures were in the 80s and sunny, according to The Weather Channel.
Barker, who joined the Long Beach force in 2014, has been in trouble with the department before, McDowell said. In May 2015, she was suspended for a week without pay for a different incident, resulting in her one-year rookie probationary period being extended for an additional 90 days.
Nearly 700 children in the U.S. were reported to have died from heat stroke between 1998 and July 2016, according to a Washington Post analysis. Children two years old and younger accounted for more than half of the deaths. In 2016 alone, 21 children have died after being left unattended in cars by July.