The mother of a toddler who was shot and killed by his father in May has filed suit against the city of Lawrenceburg and two of its police officers, claiming that they took the boy from her and placed him in his father's hands illegally.
Cole Frazier, 19 months, was shot and killed May 26 by his father, 28-year-old Timothy Frazier, who then turned the gun on himself. The murder-suicide occurred at Timothy Frazier's home in Bardstown.
Candice Dempsey, Cole's mother, is seeking compensatory damages of more than $10 million, punitive damages of more than $10 million and a jury trial. The suit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Frankfort.
Dempsey maintains in the suit that there was no legal reason for Lawrenceburg police Lt. Chris Atkins and Officer Nathan Doty to take Cole from her on May 14 and transfer custody of the child to his father.
The suit maintains that Timothy Frazier was allowed only supervised visitation with Cole in the presence of Timothy Frazier's parents, pending a temporary custody hearing on June 5.
The suit also maintains that Timothy Frazier "manufactured facts" in a domestic violence petition he filed against Dempsey, who had custody, and that the emergency protective order issued as a result of the petition said nothing about child custody.
Dempsey's suit says that the police officers were told at the time they took Cole from her that Timothy Frazier should not have custody because he was violent, used illegal drugs and had been arrested multiple times for driving while intoxicated.
"It really boils down to they came and took this child and they didn't have an appropriate order from the court," said Louisville attorney Ronald Hillerich, who represents Dempsey. "We're alleging unlawful seizure, basically."
Spencer Noe of Lexington, the attorney for the defendants, said he was out of town and had not seen the suit and probably wouldn't see it until Friday. "I have not seen it yet, so I can't say anything yet," he said.
The judge who approved the emergency protective order against Dempsey said in issuing the order that if there was concern about Cole's safety that the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services should be contacted, Hillerich said.
Hillerich said that the police officers might have looked at Timothy Frazier's petition, which asked for temporary custody of Cole, instead of the judge's order, which did not address child custody.