A lawsuit filed Friday in San Francisco accuses Napa Police and county social workers of failing to fully investigate reports of child abuse, contributing to the death of 3-year-old Kayleigh Slusher.
Napa Police found the child dead on Feb. 1, 2014, in the second unit of the Royal Garden Apartments on Wilkins Avenue, where she lived with her mother, Sara Krueger, and her mother’s boyfriend, Ryan Warner. Krueger, 25, and Warner, 27, were arrested a day later and charged with murder and assault.
In the federal lawsuit, the child’s grandmother Robin Slusher said she reported multiple times to authorities that her granddaughter was not being fed or cared for and possibly faced physical abuse from Krueger and Warner.
Yet neither the officers nor county officials with Child Welfare Services investigated the abuse at the hands of the drug-addicted couple, according to the lawsuit.
Robin and Benny Slusher, the child’s grandfather, and Kayleigh’s father, Jason, seek unspecified damages against the city of Napa, Napa Police, Napa County Child Welfare Services, two police officers, a social worker and others.
“I hold them all responsible,” Michael Haddad, the attorney for the Slushers, said about the named defendants.
“The issue is not whether or not you like Jason Slusher,” Haddad said, referring to Jason Slusher’s arrest record. “The issue is whether government workers should be held accountable when they refuse to do their job and a 3-year-old girl dies.”
One of the police officers, Garrett Wade, failed to investigate the report of child abuse when he went to the apartment for a warrant arrest on Warner, according to the federal complaint. Information on the warrant was not included in the lawsuit.
Robin Slusher on Jan. 27 reported to Child Welfare Services workers Nancy Lefler-Panela and Rocio Diaz-Lara that Kayleigh was not being fed, that Krueger and Warner were using drugs and that the drugs were accessible to the child, according to the complaint. Lefler-Panela told Slusher to call police, the suit states.
Two days later, Wade and another office, named only as Deguilio, went to the apartment again, the suit states. This time they saw bruises on Kayleigh’s face when an evasive Krueger brought her to the front door after refusing to let the officers inside the apartment, according to the complaint.
A gag order on all parties involved has been issued in the case.
Napa Police Capt. Jeff Troendly said the city has not been served with the case. He could not go into further details, citing the gag order.
Kristi Jourdan, spokeswoman for Napa County, said the county has not been served. “It is the policy of Napa County not to comment on pending litigation,” she said.
Krueger and Warner have been in custody at the Napa County jail since Feb. 2, 2014.
On Monday, the Napa County District Attorney’s Office amended the criminal complaint to add a special allegation of murder with torture, making the pair eligible for the death penalty, according to court records. They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges
Their next court appearance is July 13. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 14.
Jason Slusher, 34, who was in prison when his daughter died, was arrested May 26 in Napa after a foot chase in connection with an assault against his wife, according to court records. He has been charged in Napa County Superior Court with assault and evading police, according to the complaint.