Family of Girl Subjected to Deadly Child Abuse Win Major Reforms from Police Department

As an integral part of the $5 million settlement from the tragic child abuse death of 3-year-old Kayleigh Slusher, the Napa Police Department has instituted major reforms. No longer will officers be allowed to ignore or fail to report suspected child abuse. Napa has wholly adopted reforms and training to follow best practices for handling tips and information about child abuse and neglect. This lawsuit, brought by Kayleigh's father and grandmother, Jason and Robin Slusher, has spurred the Napa Police Department to reform its child abuse and neglect training and practices to become a nationally leading police department to protect children. Kayleigh's heartbreaking suffering and death, and her father's and grandmother's insistence, have led to these major reforms that will save children, and prevent needless suffering and tragedy. While the Napa County Department of Child Welfare Services -- unlike the Napa Police Department -- still refused to adopt best practices to protect children from abuse and neglect, this lawsuit compelled them to at least follow lawful practices. Details of the Napa Police Department's groundbreaking reforms, which Haddad & Sherwin will oversee pro bono, are listed in the settlement agreement, posted below. Photos of Kayleigh, her father and grandmother, appear at the end of this page.

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  • Napa City and County settle lawsuit over Kayleigh Slusher's death for $5 million
    Courtney TeagueNapa Valley RegisterJanuary 2, 2019

    The city and county of Napa will split a $5 million payment to the father and the grandparents of 3-year-old Kayleigh Slusher, whose death in January 2014 resulted in murder convictions of the child's mother and the mother's boyfriend. Kayleigh's father, Jason Slusher, and her grandparents, Robin and Benny Slusher, sued the city and county in federal court in May 2015. They alleged that the Napa Police Department and county Child Welfare Services personnel did not properly investigate allegations that Kayleigh was abused, neglected, and in danger due to the meth use and conduct of her mother, Sara Lynn Krueger, and Krueger's boyfriend, Ryan Scott Warner. Haddad and Sherwin, the attorneys for the Slushers, issued a news release saying that the $5 million settlement was the largest tied to wrongful death suit in the history of the city and county. The release quoted U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong who wrote in an early opinion of the case: "The horrific murder of Kayleigh likely could have been prevented had the police officers and social workers involved in this case performed their jobs with any semblance of competence.” … The settlement agreement with Napa police specifies eleven actions the department has taken or will take in the future, related to training and responding to incidents of child abuse or neglect. Since February 2014 — a month after Kayleigh died — Napa police said it has updated child abuse and neglect policies to ensure that all reports of such activity are investigated, reported to the county Child Welfare Services and the District Attorney. A written report must be completed before the end of the officer's shift. Child abuse policies will again be revised in January 2019 and best practices will be incorporated, according to the agreement. Officers have received additional training in prevention, investigation and reporting of child abuse and neglect, as well as children who are exposed to drugs and domestic violence. The department has committed to train police 911 dispatchers in child abuse and neglect. Dispatchers and officers will be trained to identify risk factors for child abuse, such as living conditions, looking for previous events at the child's home address, histories of domestic violence or child abuse with family members, Chief Robert Plummer said in an interview. Officers will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they understand they must report child abuse and neglect, according to the settlement.

  • Napa city, county pay $5 million to settle suit over child's murder
    Michael CabanatuanSan Francisco ChronicleJanuary 2, 2019

  • Kayleigh Slusher Settlement Agreement: Napa Police Department Reforms
    December 28, 2018

    Here is the Settlement Agreement of the Napa Police Department's reforms agreed as a result of Kayleigh's lawsuit. These reforms will move the Napa Police Department to a nationally prominent role in protecting children from child abuse and neglect

  • Kayleigh Slusher state court Complaint filed in Napa County Superior Court
    December 28, 2018

    Here is the final state court Complaint against the City and County of Napa.

  • Within Our Reach
    Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect FatalitiesDecember 31, 2016

    United States government report on preventing child abuse and neglect