Kyle Plush case: Body cameras show cops stayed in car during search for teen dying in van

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:29 PM

Van Seat Fatally Crushes Teen, Says 'Tell My Mom I Love Her If I Die'

Body camera footage from two Cincinnati police officers’ search for a 16-year-old teen who was crushed to death by a seat in his minivan earlier this month shows the officers never left their patrol car while they looked for the teen.

The footage shows the officers driving past the parking lot where Kyle Plush was dying on their way to search a separate lot on the campus of Seven Hills School, where the teen was a sophomore. 

They do not appear to search all of the parking lots on the campus, and the videos indicate that the officers may have searched the area for less than a third of the time that officials previously said they did. 

Cincinnati police officials, along with Hamilton County prosecutors and the county Sheriff’s Office, are conducting internal investigations to determine what led to Plush’s death, both inside the van and out. That includes a probe of law enforcement officers’ actions and what took place at the city’s 911 center. 

“The event leading up to Kyle’s death are devastating and also raise concerning questions about our city’s emergency 911 system and police response,” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said April 12. “While it is unclear if there is wrongdoing by the city in this tragedy, we have a profound responsibility to find out.”

>> Related story: ‘Tell my mom that I love her if I die,’ teen pleads as van seat fatally crushes him

Plush called 911 twice on the afternoon of April 10, screaming and pleading for help as he slowly suffocated inside his gold Honda Odyssey in a parking lot at his school. The teen, a sophomore at Seven Hills School in Cincinnati, was apparently reaching for his tennis gear in the rear hatch of the van when the third-row bench seat tipped backward and pinned him, upside down, in the hatch area with the seat digging into his chest.

Plush, who died of positional asphyxia, used his iPhone’s voice commands to call 911. The teen could be heard struggling to breathe as he told a dispatcher that he was trapped in his van.  

“I can’t hear you,” Plush told the dispatcher in his first call, according to The Washington Post. “I’m in desperate need of help. I’m gonna die here.”

Two city police officers were dispatched at 3:21 p.m. to the school to search for the caller in distress, Cincinnati police officials said. They arrived about five minutes later. 

Body camera footage obtained by WCPO in Cincinnati shows the responding officers, Brian Brazile and Edsel Osborn, driving on the school campus but staying in their patrol car. The videos also show that the officers searched for Plush for about three minutes before turning off their cameras, an indication that they had completed the call. 

Information previously released by the Cincinnati Police Department indicated that the officers were on the scene for 11 minutes but could not find the van Plush was calling from. 

The footage, which was released by police officials Friday following a public records request, shows Brazile drive past the Seven Hills School Resale Shop, a thrift store run by the school to help fund various projects on campus, before turning into a parking lot south of the store.  

Plush’s van -- which was found by his father six hours later -- was in a student parking lot located north of the shop. The officers drive by that parking lot, but do not turn in.

The body camera footage shows the officers driving slowly through the south parking lot, searching for the 911 caller.

“Shoot, these kids drive better cars than you do,” Brazile appears to tell Osborn. 

“Uh-huh,” Osborn mutters. 

Brazile makes a U-turn in the lot and they search it again before ducking through afterschool traffic and into another lot across the street, near the school’s tennis courts and baseball field. The second lot they turn into is further south -- and further away from where Plush was still alive, but struggling for breath. 

“I don’t see nobody, which I didn’t imagine I would,” one of the officers can be heard saying as they search. 

“I’m going to shut this off,” Osborn says just before his body camera recording ends. 

The star on this map released by the Cincinnati Police Department shows the location where Jacob Plush, 16, was parked Tuesday, April 10, 2018, when he was crushed to death by a seat in his family's minivan. Plush, a sophomore at Seven Hills School in Cincinnati, was parked in the school's sophomore parking lot, where his father found his body about six hours after the teen made two 911 calls begging for help. Body camera footage released April 20, 2018, by police officials indicates that city officers who responded to the calls searched the parking lot at the bottom left of the map, but did not search the lot where Plush died. 
(Cincinnati Police Department)

Cincinnati police spokeswoman Tiffany Hardy told WCPO that the footage was the entire recording of the officers’ response to Seven Hills. Departmental policy dictates that officers activate their body cameras when arriving on the scene of a call.

They can deactivate the cameras only after clearing the call, according to the policy

Previous information made public by Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Issac indicated that it was another eight minutes before the officers marked their assignment as cleared. 

Dashboard camera footage from the officers’ patrol car was not released with the body camera footage, WCPO reported. Hardy told the news station that Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters’ office has that footage. 

Deters announced shortly after Plush’s death that his office had launched a comprehensive investigation into the tragedy. Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil also ordered an investigation into his department’s handling of the calls. 

A deputy working a traffic detail at the school also searched for Plush that afternoon but did not find him. Dispatcher Amber Smith -- who was placed on administrative leave for about a week after Plush’s death -- and the deputy could be heard in dispatch audio debating whether the calls had been a prank. 

Even after Plush’s father found him dead, city police officers thought the calls from the school were a prank, WCPO reported. When a call went out for officers to respond to the school, either Brazile or Osborn responded on the radio, not knowing that the teen was dead.

“I think somebody’s playing pranks,” the officer said, according to radio traffic. “It was something about they were locked in a vehicle across from the school. We never found anything. But we’ll respond and see what else we can find.”

A police photo shows the minivan that Jacob Plush, 16, of Cincinnati, died in parked in a student parking lot at Seven Hills School Tuesday, April 10, 2018. Plush, a sophomore at the school, was crushed to death by a seat in the van. His father found his body about six hours after the teen made two 911 calls begging for help.(Cincinnati Police Department)

The multiple investigations into the incident seek to determine what kept responding officers from locating Plush in time to save him. In his second 911 call, the teen told Smith exactly where he was located at the school and gave Smith a description of his van.

“I probably don’t have much time left, so tell my mom that I love her if I die,” the teen said, according to the audio. “This is not a joke. This is not a joke. I’m trapped inside my gold Honda Odyssey van in the sophomore parking lot of Seven Hills (unintelligible). 

“Send officers immediately. I’m almost dead.”

Smith was placed on administrative leave two days after Plush’s death because she did not relay to the officers the make, model and color of the van. WCPO reported that internal documents from the probe showed that Smith’s supervisors found her work “unacceptable” in the incident. 

Smith told investigators that, although the recording of Plush’s second 911 call picked up what he said, she could not hear him when he gave the description of his van and his location. Issac previously said that Smith did press a tone indicating she was having trouble on the line. 

Smith also told investigators that her computer screen froze, keeping her from properly documenting the call, the news station said. One of the documents indicated that 911 operators’ computers were experiencing problems around the time of Plush’s call. 

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An emergency dispatch consultant told WCPO that problems with the computers was not a surprise. 

“Having a computer system within the 911 center freezing up or locking out is not uncommon,” consultant Dave Warner said

Cranley said in his statement that problems have plagued the 911 center for a long time. 

“Separate from his incident, the problems of management, supervision and technology have been reported at the 911 center for years,” the mayor said

He said that he has repeatedly requested solutions and lobbied the Federal Communications Commission on the technology issues but was told the problems were being resolved. 

“This tragedy may ultimately suggest the problems have not been resolved or that not enough changes have been made,” Cranley said. 

Cranley said officials must also determine if “preventable flaws or failures” have worsened emergency situations. 

The internal records show that Smith tried calling Plush twice and sent him a text message seeking the address of his emergency, WCPO reported. He never responded, but his use of voice commands showed that he likely could not reach his phone. 

The dispatcher who took Plush’s first call also used the GPS coordinates of his phone to send Brazile and Osborn to the parking lot near the thrift store, the news station said. Reporters who plugged the coordinates into a Google map found that they were just feet from the spot where Plush’s father found him that night. 

The officers still did not find him. 

Neither Brazile nor Osborn have been placed on leave during the investigation.   

Smith returned to work last week. Any disciplinary action taken against her has not been made public, WCPO reported.

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Veteran heartbroken after her therapy dog is mauled to death

Published: Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 6:28 PM

Cherice Jackson. (Photo: WSBTV.com)
Cherice Jackson. (Photo: WSBTV.com)

Years after fighting for our country in Iraq, Cherice Jackson found herself in another fight – this time for her best friend, her therapy dog Ms. Pooh. 

Jackson said two pit bulls mauled Ms. Pooh to death and she couldn’t stop it. 

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“I spent probably 20, 30 minutes trying to wrestle her from him,” Jackson told Channel 2’s Justin Wilfon. “It’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I feel like I failed her."

She said shortly after taking her dog out for a walk early Friday morning in her Decatur neighborhood, the pit bulls attacked.

Jackson suffered cuts and bruises, but her dog was gone.

“When I was finally able to get ahold of her and get her in the house and see the damage they did to her, it hurt … because she was my baby,” Jackson said. 

DeKalb County Animal Control set a trap with the hope of catching the pit bulls that animal control believes are strays.

Jackson suffers from PTSD and her dog comforted her after she came home from war.

Blake Rashad, the founder of the Top Dog Canine Foundation, told Wilfon he was about to evaluate Ms. Pooh to see if the therapy dog could become Jackson’s service dog.

“That’s what these dogs do. They bring her anxiety down. They help with depression,” Rashad said.

For now, Jackson’s heartbroken that she couldn’t save the life of the dog that made her life so much better.

“She’s like … been everything to me,” Jackson said. 

The Top Dog organization is now raising money to pay for a new service dog for Jackson.

DeKalb Animal Control continues to look for the dogs responsible, but so far, no luck.

Jackson wants them put down when or if they are caught.

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Deaf, pregnant woman with service animal says she was punched on flight

Published: Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 6:02 PM

VIDEO: Deaf, Pregnant Woman With Service Animal Claims She Was Punched on Flight

Video shows a confrontation that erupted after a deaf pregnant woman said a man punched her and her service dog as their Frontier flight was taxiing to a gate at Orlando International Airport.

The family of the man said it was all a misunderstanding.

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Hazel Ramirez admits that her fiancé, Matthew Silva, tackled Timothy Manley in the terminal early Thursday.

But she said that was after Manley punched her service dog.

She told police the attack happened after the flight from Colorado Springs, Colorado, landed in Orlando when "the larger service animal took up more space than Timothy felt it deserved."

Ramirez, who is deaf, spoke to WFTV Friday evening through a sign language interpreter.

"My fiancé started yelling at the man and said, 'Don't you ever touch our dog. Don't touch a service animal ever,'" she said. "'That's not OK.'"

Video shows Ramirez and her fiancé respond by angrily signing at Manley.

Petrini Manley, Timothy Manley's wife, told WFTV her husband accidentally swatted the great Dane when it startled him, but he couldn't convey that to Ramirez's fiancé.

She said her husband is an animal lover who would never intentionally harm a dog.

Petrini Manley said her son recorded video that shows Silva kicking her husband in anger -- proof that Silva was the aggressor.

But Ramirez, who is 20 weeks pregnant, said it didn't escalate into a tackle until Manley punched her in the stomach after her fiancé shouted at him.

"That's when my fiancé just became furious, because he put his hands on me and the kid and the dog," she said.

She said her fiancé was trying to keep everyone there until police arrived, but Manley's family said it never understood that and instead felt they were being held hostage.

Petrini Manley said Silva is the one who got violent first, even causing her glasses to break.

The Orlando Police Department has handed over the case to the FBI since the incident happened on a plane.

An FBI spokesman said the agency is working with OPD to determine whether anyone will be charged in the case.

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Mario Batali faces criminal investigation, NYPD officials say 

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 7:44 AM

What You Need To Know About Mario Batali

The New York Police Department is investigating celebrity chef Mario Batali, but police haven’t said exactly what they are investigating

CBS News reported on “60 Minutes” that multiple former female employees of  The Spotted Pig, a restaurant that caters to the rich and famous in New York, claim that Batali and the co-owner of the eatery, Ken Freidman, sexually harassed or assaulted them.

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Trish Nelson called Batali a monster, saying “Behind the scenes, he’s hurtful and he does not respect women.”

Nelson told Anderson Cooper for the “60 Minutes” interview that Batali was called “The Red Menace” and a warning would go out when he was expected to show up at the restaurant.

Other employees told “60 Minutes” of times they claim Batali would grab them and come on to female servers, making inappropriate comments.

A woman who did not want to be named said that Batali drugged her in 2005. She woke up by herself in a room on the third floor of The Spotted Pig. The woman was an employee at Babbo, one of Batali’s restaurants. He had invited her to The Spotted Pig for a party. They drank white wine together when she said she lost time.

“I remember a moment where I was on his lap, kissing him. Like he was kissing me. And then I remember throwing up -- in a toilet. And that is all,” the woman told 60 Minutes.

The woman said she woke up, alone, in an empty room. She said she saw empty bottles and had deep scratches on her leg. 

“The first thing I think is, ‘I’ve been drugged.’ That was the first thing I thought is, ‘I’ve been -- I’ve been assaulted.’” the woman told 60 Minutes.

The woman returned to work hours after waking up, when she said that Batali called into the restaurant. She claims he wouldn’t talk to her when she asked what happened the night before.

She spoke with a detective from the NYPD, but declined to file a report, 60 Minutes reported

Batali responded to the accusations, telling 60 Minutes via a statement, “I vehemently deny the allegation that I sexually assaulted this woman.”

B&B Hospitality Group, the restaurant group founded by Batali and Joe Bastianich, told Fox News that the company is breaking ties with Batali, saying, “The accounts tonight were chilling and deeply disturbing. This was the first we learned of them. Our partnership with Mr. Batali is ending.”

In December, Batali was fired from “The Chew” on ABC and has left day-to-day operations from his businesses, NBC News reported.

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Anthony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio slam Mario Batali amid allegations

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 10:59 AM

What You Need To Know About Mario Batali

It doesn’t seem that the sexual misconduct allegations brought against celebrity chef Mario Batali were that shocking to some of his colleagues.

In an article published in Eater New York Monday, four women detailed their alleged experiences with sexual misconduct against the “The Chew” star. One chef said that 10 years ago, Batali groped her with his bare hands after spilling wine on her shirt, while another woman said that he inappropriately grabbed her from behind and held her against his own body.

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Following the allegations, fellow celebrity chefs including Anthony Bourdain and Tom Colicchio slammed Batali and seemed to insinuate that they knew about the allegations ahead of time.

Related: Chef Mario Batali leaves ‘The Chew’ amid sexual harassment allegations

“No. Trust me. Monday is really gonna suck,” Bourdain wrote on Twitter Sunday. He later followed up, writing, “It’s where you stand when the people you care about and admire do awful things that matters. Keeping head down and hoping it goes away? No.”

When the story broke early Monday, Bourdain took to Twitter again, tweeting, “It’s Batali. And it’s bad.”

“Top Chef” star Colicchio retweeted Bourdain’s tweet about Batali adding, “And no one should be surprised.”

Following the allegations, Batali released a statement to Eater, saying in part, “I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”

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