Kyle Plush's Mother Says Report Is 'Not Enough' As Deters Declines To File Charges

Nov 15, 2018

Kyle Plush's family is critical of the findings from two independent reviews of the city's response to his death in April.

Kyle died after getting stuck in a minivan at the Seven Hills School parking lot even though he called 911 twice for help.

The reviews from 21st Century Policing Solutions (21CP) and Mission Critical Partners were presented to City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee Thursday. The reports outlined several missteps or mistakes, but did not lay blame on any city employees.

"By and large, our review did not identify grounds for concluding that responding Cincinnati Police Department officers were unreasonable in their performance," from the 21CP report. "Likewise, CPD's internal investigation of the incident was generally sound, fair, comprehensive, and timely."

The Plush family reviewed the reports Wednesday night and were in the audience as the findings were presented to council.

Kyle's aunt, Jodi Schwind, said she could have done what 21CP did, which was a review of the police department's report on the incident.

"21CP did not comprehensively re-investigate the incident," Schwind said. "Which is what I thought the city had paid $100,000 for."

Schwind said the report did not answer the basic question of why the responding police officers never left their cruiser that day to check vehicles in the parking lots and try to locate Kyle.

"There's no recommendation around why that didn't happen and that's the elephant in the room," Schwind said. "Why didn't that happen? And just because no one was standing next to a car saying 'that's it, that's the van,' I don't understand why we don't have an answer or recommendation."

Kyle's mom, Jill Plush, also expressed reservations about the report on the police response.

"This report (is) not enough," Jill Plush said, before turning to address Council Member Amy Murray. "So I ask you Ms. Murray, are you satisfied with these investigative reports?"

Mission Critical Partners did a review of the emergency communications center response to the April incident.

Sherri Powell with the firm said the call taker on Kyle's first call "didn't do some customer service things a call taker would typically do."

"She does not acknowledge the caller's concern and numerous requests for help," Powell said. "She does not provide reassurance that she understands he is stuck and that she is sending police units to respond. In our opinion, she was really focused on getting the location of the call and neglected some of the other things she should have done."

Powell said the call taker had a valid location when she got the phone call.

Powell also said the call taker for Kyle's second 911 call activated the teletypewriter (TTY) tones after hearing silence on the call. It's used for callers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech problems. It allows them to type to describe an emergency. 

But that action prevented the call taker from hearing critical information that Kyle was relaying on his second call.

"Unfortunately the second call is when Kyle provided a lot of critical information, including that he was in a gold Honda Odyssey van, that he was in the sophomore parking lot at Seven Hills School, and that this was an urgent situation and it was not a joke or prank phone call," Powell said. "This information never got conveyed to the responding officers because the call was not heard."

"Mission Critical Partners cannot say with any certainty whether the additional information or a second incident being entered would have changed the outcome," from the firm's written report. "It is easy to suggest alternative courses of action after a tragic event when in a controlled environment and as more information is brought to light."

Mission Critical is recommending the ECC rewrite its standard operating procedures, reconsider how it handled cell phone calls, and reconsider using TTY tones.

It also suggests re-training call takers on 911 customer service and making changes to the backup communications center at the old Spinney Field. That facility was being used during the Plush incident because of remodeling work at the main center.

Meanwhile, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced in a press release Thursday that no one will face criminal charges as a result of the April incident.

Deters said his office reviewed the police department investigative report, and the two independent reviews.

"After a review of all of these documents, no criminal charges are appropriate and, therefore, none will be filed," Deters said.

Deters credits the city for taking steps to improve the city's 911 system to prevent a tragedy like this in the future.