The father of a 3-year-old girl who died after her mother, then a Long Beach police officer, left her unattended in a patrol car for hours Sept. 30 is suing the Long Beach Police Department and Mississippi Child Protective Services.
Ryan Hyer, through his attorney, submitted a certified letter notifying the police department and CPS of his intent to sue the agencies for “their wrongful actions which caused the unnecessary death of his daughter.” Known in the legal profession as a “notice of intent” or “notice of claim,” the letter is a procedural step required by state law to file a lawsuit against a government entity.
Hyer made headlines in early October expressing the shock, grief and anger he felt after learning how his daughter, Cheyenne, died alone in the back of a hot police car in Hancock County.
His ex-girlfriend and Cheyenne’s mother, Cassie Barker, was arrested on a charge of manslaughter after the child was found unresponsive in the back of Barker’s patrol car. The girl was left in the car for four hours outside the Hancock County home of Barker’s then-supervisor, Sgt. Clark Ladner, while the two were inside, according to investigators.
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But it wasn’t the first time Cheyenne was left alone in a car. Hyer is accusing the police department, through Chief Wayne McDowell and other employees, of conspiring and covering up evidence of Barker’s previous arrest and conviction of leaving Cheyenne alone in a vehicle in Gulfport, according to the notice.
The child was taken into CPS custody at that time, but Barker later regained custody, prompting Hyer’s claim against CPS. He said the agency never notified him after the first time his daughter was left alone in a car.
CPS “failed to notify the father of Cheyenne, Ryan Hyer, that his daughter had been endangered by the conduct of her mother or that Cheyenne was subject to an investigation and/or was in the custody of (CPS),” according to the notice.
Hyer is seeking damages of $2 million with additional damages to be proven at trial.
Hyer is represented by Ocean Spring attorney Dianne Ellis. He lives in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, but lived in South Mississippi until he and Barker split up after two years. The couple never married.