A former Mississippi Gulf Coast police officer pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter after telling a judge she had sex with her supervisor and then fell asleep while her 3-year-old daughter was dying inside her hot patrol car.
Prosecutors recommended that Cassie Barker, 29, should spend 20 years in prison after her 3-year-old daughter, Cheyenne Hyer, died in 2016. Court documents reveal that Barker left Hyer strapped in a car seat for four hours while the former cop was having sex with her then-supervisor at his home. The car was running with the air conditioner on, but as it turned out, it wasn't blowing any cold air into the patrol car.
By the time Barker returned to her patrol car and discovered her daughter's body, Hyer was unresponsive. Authorities say the child's body temperature was 107 degrees by the time she arrived at a nearby hospital.
Barker initially claimed that she had been talking to her supervisor at his house early on a hot weekday when she fell asleep. Both Barker and her supervisor, identified as Clark Ladner, were both fired by the city of Long Beach within days after the incident.
Ladner was not charged after he told officials he didn't know the girl was in the car.
Barker was free on bail, but was taken into custody after pleading guilty on Monday.
Ryan Hyer, the father of the 3-year-old, has filed a lawsuit against the Long Beach Police Department and the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services for the wrongful death of his child. Hyer claims the agency should have taken stronger action after child welfare officials took temporary custody of their child when Barker left their daughter in a car in April 2015.
"Every time I close my eyes, I picture her suffering and then I picture her laying in this coffin," Ryan Hyer said Monday. "I still see her smiling and laughing in my head and I would assume that smile and laughter turned to pain and suffering in that instance."
Barker was suspended for a week without pay following the incident.
"As a parent, you are supposed to protect your child, and Cheyenne is gone because her mother didn’t protect her, not once but twice," Hyer said.