Crime

Former officer accused in child’s hot-car death is headed to court

Former Long Beach police officer Cassie Barker walks into the Hancock County Public Safety Complex with lawyers George Blair, left, and Donald Rafferty on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. A warrant was issued for her arrest on a charge of manslaughter involved in the death of her daughter, Cheyenne Hyer, 3.
Former Long Beach police officer Cassie Barker walks into the Hancock County Public Safety Complex with lawyers George Blair, left, and Donald Rafferty on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. A warrant was issued for her arrest on a charge of manslaughter involved in the death of her daughter, Cheyenne Hyer, 3. amccoy@sunherald.com

More details in the criminal case against a former Long Beach police officer accused in her 3-year-old daughter’s hot-car death are expected to come out at a Nov. 8 preliminary hearing in the case.

Fired police officer Cassie Barker, 27, charged with manslaughter in the Sept. 30 death of her daughter, Cheyenne Hyer, is set to appear at 10 a.m. before Justice Court Judge Tommy Carver. The hearing had been set for next week, but it was mistakenly put before another judge and had to be reset.

At the hearing, Carver will determine if there is enough evidence to turn the case over to a Hancock County grand jury for an indictment.

Barker is accused of leaving her daughter in the back of her patrol car from shortly before 9 a.m. Sept. 30 until she discovered her daughter unresponsive at 1:15 p.m., according to records. Barker had stopped by the home of her then-supervisor, Sgt. Clark Ladner, to discuss a work-related matter. Ladner has since been fired.

Barker had worked until 6 that morning and picked up Cheyenne at her baby-sitter’s house at 8:30 a.m. She drove to Ladner’s home in Kiln.

She said she planned to stay a few minutes, but fell asleep and didn’t wake up until nearly five hours later. She had left the car running with its windows rolled up. The car’s air conditioning, according to the affidavit, was set at a maximum level, but the temperature setting was past the cold setting and closer to the heat setting and the fan was on low.

When paramedics got Cheyenne to Hancock County Medical Center in Bay St. Louis, her body temperature was 107 degrees, Hancock County Chief Investigator Glenn Grannan said. She was pronounced dead there.

Long Beach police officers expressed anger at their two former colleagues after the death investigation began.

Police Chief Wayne McDowell said he and the other officers loved Cheyenne and knew her well because her mother usually brought her to community events and the other officers would push her around in a stroller and spend time with her.

A preliminary autopsy showed Cheyenne’s death was heat-related but the autopsy results, including a toxicology report, are not yet complete.

Barker has been out of jail on a $50,000 bond since her Oct. 6 surrender to Hancock County deputies. The judge had set Barker’s bond over the phone a day before Barker turned herself in.

Sheriff Ricky Adam and Grannan have expressed outrage over the low bond the judge set without any input from them. Both believe Barker is a flight risk because she moved out of her home immediately after her daughter’s death and investigators learned she had left the state the day she set to surrender.

Adam issued a warning then that he would arrest anyone trying to help Barker. Several hours later, Barker returned to the state and surrendered.

Ryan Hyer, Cheyenne’s father, said he is struggling to accept his daughter’s death, but he’s determined to get justice.

He’s even had stickers made that say, “Justice for Cheyenne” with a picture of her on them.

Cheyenne’s former baby-sitter and others have asked for stickers to wear the day Barker goes to court.

“We are just trying to get the word out,” Hyer said Friday. “You know, things tend to blow over after you talk about them for a week or two and then it disappears. We don’t want people to forget about Cheyenne. It’s already been swept under the rug once when they didn’t do anything the first time.”

Cheyenne survived the first time Barker left her alone in a car, April 6, 2015, outside an AT&T store on U.S. 49 in Gulfport. Cheyenne was 2 years old and in the back of her mother’s car for more than a half-hour before Gulfport police rescued the child.

A passer-by had reported seeing Cheyenne in the car then. The state Department of Human Services temporarily took custody of the child, but she was given back to her mother in two days. Barker was never prosecuted in the case and officials failed to notify Hyer when it happened.

“I don’t want anything else swept under the rug because she’s a police officer,” Hyer said. “I want justice for my daughter.”

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

  Comments