Courtney Teague / Napa Valley Register
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.