Cincinnati, Ohio. The family of Kyle Plush has filed a wrongful death suit in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. The suit details a deteriorating Cincinnati 9-1-1 program in the months leading up to Kyle’s death on April 10, 2018. The City’s reviews of the 9-1-1 failures did not reveal the mishandling of each of Kyle Plush’s calls for help. The goal of this lawsuit is to uncover the 9-1-1 problems that lead to Kyle’s death.
New Forensic Reconstruction of 911 calls
The Plush suit reveals the results of a new forensic review of the two 9-1-1 calls made by Kyle who died when police failed to locate his minivan in his school parking lot. He called 9-1-1 twice from the van using Siri as his arms were pinned and he could not physically reach his phone in his pocket. John Melcher, former CEO of the Harris County, Texas 9-1-1 Emergency Network, the largest 9-1-1 program in North America, concludes that the first call taker “abandoned her duties” and “increased the risk of death” to Kyle when she:
- Failed to share details of the van’s location which she had verified through geo-location technology which automatically uses GPS-like tracking to pinpoint a cellphone’s location
- Misclassified the call for service as “unknown trouble” rather than as a call that required immediate fire/rescue
- Delayed by 7 minutes the entry into the CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch which is displayed on computer terminals in police vehicles) and failed to share with police responders critical information about Kyle’s desperate need for immediate help
He concludes that the call taker who received Kyle’s second 9-1-1 call disregarded all standards when she:
- Improperly engaged TTY for a “silent call” (used for hearing impaired individuals) even though she heard Kyle ask for help and say he was at Seven Hills Schools and knew it was not a silent call. By activating the TTY, she reduced the volume of Kyle’s voice and made it difficult to hear him
- Failed to play back the call and hear Kyle’s description of his van, his location, and his fear that he would die soon
- Failed to contact the police who were still on scene about the second call and that he thought he was dying
The lawsuit is also based on an investigation by a police practices expert, Dr. Michael Lyman, who found that the two responding officers searched every lot except the northern end of the thrift store lot, never used the button on their in-vehicle computer to populate a map of Kyle’s location, and did not get out of their vehicle to search the few vans that were in the small lot.
The lawsuit follows a failed nine-month effort by his parents to work directly with the City of Cincinnati to secure a thorough study of the facts, identify the problems that led to their son’s death, and seek a commitment to meaningful reforms that would prevent future deaths. The City spent more than $100,000 on two investigations that exonerated the call takers and officers of all wrongdoing. The City failed to conduct appropriate interviews and failed to conduct any forensic analysis of the call records.
The Plush family is represented by attorneys Al Gerhardstein, Jennifer Branch and Caroline Hyatt of Gerhardstein & Branch, Co. LPA, Cincinnati, Ohio.