Kyle Plush death investigation: Prosecutor Joe Deters awaiting more forensic evidence

CINCINNATI -- Hamilton County's prosecutor is waiting on more forensic evidence in the death of a teen who suffocated inside his minivan last month, and likely won't comment on the case until next week at the soonest.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters subpoenaed investigative records from the Cincinnati Police Department last week, halting a public review of what led up to Kyle Plush's death April 10.

Deters completed his review of the city's report last week. Lt. Steve Saunders, police spokesman, said it's still under review within the department and would be released when it's available.

It's not clear what evidence Deters is awaiting in his own office's investigation.

Police officials were scheduled to talk with city council last Wednesday about how the teen died at Seven Hills School, even though he called 911 twice. Smitherman said Deters' subpoena arrived about a half-hour before that meeting was to have begun.

Deters initially said he expected to have his review completed early this week. Then Monday, his office announce he would have no comment until at least next week.

 

Smitherman has scheduled a hearing for next Monday in his Law and Public Safety Committee.

The full statement from Deters' office:

"Mr. Deters will not be making any comments on the Kyle Plush matter this week. The earliest that he would have comment would be next week. The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office is awaiting additional forensic evidence."

A preliminary investigation into the city's 911 center revealed technical problems and human error may have played roles in first responders' failure to locate Plush. The 911 operator who took Plush's second call said she couldn’t hear him when he described the make, model and color of the minivan where he was trapped and suffocating.

Dysfunction at the call center goes back years and includes problems with staffing, morale and technology.

 

Numerous questions remain about the actions of officers called to the scene, including whether they had access to GPS coordinates from Plush's phone and if they ever got out of their vehicle during their search.

Three minutes of body camera footage, which Deters permitted the police department to release, shows two police officers in their car looking for Plush. Sgt. Dan Hils, Cincinnati police union president, said that footage does not cover the entire 11-minute search.

The Hamilton County deputy who had been directing traffic looked for Plush on foot after talking with the officers but he never found his van, Chief Deputy Mark Schoonover said.

Harry Black, who was Cincinnati's city manager at the time Plush died, left under pressure last month. Councilman Greg Landsman, a crucial fifth vote for Black's ouster, said he thought the manager was distracted by an ongoing feud with Cranley and wasn't fully focused on fixing the 911 center. Four council members had already supported Black's removal over allegations he retaliated against city employees and went to a topless bar during a city business trip.

Rather than face almost certain termination, Black resigned April 21. He still is a defendant in several lawsuits from current and former city employees.

Since then, Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney and police officials have laid out a detailed action plan for the 911 center, focused on staffing, morale and technology. Plush's father attended the meeting when city officials presented that plan.

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