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Officer’s toddler dies after being left in patrol car for 4 hours, official says

Hancock County investigators on Monday identified the two police officers on leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the death of a 3-year-old daughter of one of the officers.

Long Beach police officer Cassie Barker has been identified as the mother of Cheyenn Hyer, who died Friday after she was left unattended in a patrol car on Standard-Dedeaux Road in Kiln. Sheriff Ricky Adam said the car was running and the air conditioning was on when sheriff’s investigators got to the scene between noon and 1 p.m. Friday.

However, Adam said, the case remains under investigation and an arrest could follow once investigators receive additional information requested from other officials.

Hancock County Chief Deputy Don Bass said that Cheyenn was left in the patrol car for four hours while Barker “was visiting” with Long Beach patrolman Clark Ladner.

Bass said Ladner did not know Cheyenn was in the car while Ladner and Barker were inside.

Chief Investigator Glen Grannan said Monday deputies have learned Barker was involved in an unrelated incident which resulted in her having to go through the state Department of Human Services “so she could have her child back.” The incident involved the same child.

Grannan said investigators are “going through the proper legal protocols to get all the information I need.”

Long Beach Police Chief Wayne McDowell said Barker and Ladner are on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an independent investigation into the incident. Barker and Ladner were together, but off duty at the time the child was found. They were not in Long Beach.

Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk said the preliminary results of the child’s autopsy at the Mississippi Forensic Laboratory in Pearl should be available early this week.

McDowell described the incident as “sad.”

“I’ve spoken with the male officer involved, but I’ve not spoken with the female officer, not as far as the official internal investigation, because of medical reasons,” McDowell said. “The mother is in shock. I will talk to her soon.”

The child was pronounced dead at Hancock Medical Center.

Temperatures Friday were in the high 80s to low 90s, with the heat index reaching above 100 degrees.

Staff writers Jeff Clark and Robin Fitzgerald contributed to this report.

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