Two police officers have been placed on administrative leave after a 3-year-old girl was found dead in a patrol car in Hancock County, Mississippi.
Cheyenne Hyer had reportedly been left in the patrol car of officer Cassie Barker for approximately four hours, according to WLOX.
Barker was off duty at the time and visiting another officer, Clark Ladner.
Police say they are unclear on Ladner’s part in the incident.
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“We don’t even know if he knew the child was in the car,” said Hancock County Chief Deputy Don Bass, the Jackson Clarion Ledger reported.
Police say the air conditioning was running in the vehicle when they found Cheyenne. She was taken to a local medical center where she was pronounced dead.
Ryan Hyer, Cheyenne’s father, told the Clarion Ledger he brought up Cheyenne until she was 2, when he and Barker split up.
“I went from being there continuously to not being there at all,” Ryan said.
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He added he was in shock when he heard the news.
“What really kills me is that you see a child killed in a car wreck, or in a home invasion, or even left in a hot car,” he added. “And the last thing you ever expect is to have an officer come knock on your door and tell you your daughter has passed away.”
Bass refused to speculate on why Barker was visiting Ladner. But he was clear the decision to leave Cheyenne in the car was a mistake.
“There’s no logical reason to do that,” Bass added. “It’s not an accident. She left the child in the car. We hear and read about this, it seems like quite often recently. It seems more than ever that people are leaving their infants and small children in the car to do tasks and shopping.”
Investigators also said Barker was previously involved in an incident with the Department of Human Services to get her child back. However, details on this have not been made public.
“The autopsy was done this morning and we haven't got the results yet,” Hancock County Sheriff Ricky Adam added, according to WLOX. “We are looking into some possible previous allegations. 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.”