Mother files suit after police turn son over to father who killed him
BARDSTOWN, KY (WAVE) - In a tragic scenario that has become all too familiar, 21-month-old Cole Lance Frazier was killed by his father, Timothy Frazier, who then used the gun to kill himself. But the boy's mother says there's much more to the story.
According to police records, Frazier fatally shot Cole on May 26, then turned the gun on himself after requesting an Emergency Protective Order against the child's mother, Candice Dempsey.
But Dempsey's attorney, Ron Hillerich, says the judge never granted custody to Frazier, and that police made a deadly mistake when they turned Cole over to his father.
Dempsey, who lives in Lawrenceburg, Ky., is filing a $10 million lawsuit in federal court claiming the police didn't read the judge's order correctly and therefore had no authority to take Cole from her, and that doing so led to his death.
Hillerich says the lawsuit "has ramifications for law enforcement nationwide and across this Commonwealth."
During this federal court case one of the biggest issues will be determining the police officer's ability to read and correctly interpret the judge's order.
"It shouldn't have happened in the first place," Dempsey said, "but it did. And if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody."
Here's what happened to Dempsey: in May of 2009, police officers showed up at Dempsey's house in Lawrenceburg, claiming they had a signed judge's order to place the baby with his father in Nelson County.
Dempsey says that's the last thing she wanted to do, but she had no choice. "It's pretty much like giving your child to a monster," she said.
Frazier had been in trouble with police in the past, and has also been arrested for DUI several times. In February of 2009, a police report says he kicked the window out of a police cruiser during a DUI arrest; later that month, he was again arrested for DUI. During that arrest, police say he was combative in jail and had to be subdued with pepper spray.
Hillerich says there's no way "any judge or anybody is going to give custody of a not even 2-year-old baby to that person. I don't think so."
Hillerich believes the officers were looking at a motion Frazier filed in Nelson County that made claims against the mother. In the motion, the judge states if Frazier is worried about the child's welfare to contact the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
On the actual EPO, the judge leaves the custody section blank. Hillerich says the judge only ordered Dempsey to stay away from Frazier until the next hearing.
In a phone call between Lawrenceburg Officer Nathan Doty and someone at the Nelson County Clerk's office, Hillerich says he believes the officer is reading from the Motion instead of the EPO, and both he and the clerk seem confused.
"The motion says the father is granted temporary custody of the child?"
"And that was signed by the judge?"
The lawsuit's purpose is to make sure officers read and understand EPOs before they attempt to execute them.
It may be too late for Dempsey, but she hopes to prevent others from experiencing her ordeal. "He was my life and he was everything to me. And we're going to do our best to do everything possible to see that this doesn't happen to anybody else."
Frazier was due in court for a hearing the day after he murdered his son and committed suicide.
The city of Lawrenceburg, Police Lieutenant Chris Atkins and Officer Nathan Doty are named in the suit.
Our calls to the Lawrenceburg Police Chief were not returned Thursday.
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