Police under fire after toddler murdered

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City attorney defends police department's decision to take child from mom, give him to dad

By Shannon Brock

A 21-month-old who was apparently shot by his father should have never been in the man’s custody, according to attorney Marie Hellard, who is representing the child’s mother.

Timothy L. Frazier, 28, and his son, Cole Lance Frazier, were found dead at 110 Tree Top Drive in Bardstown on May 26. Their deaths are being investigated as a murder-suicide, according to Nelson County Coroner Field Houghlin.

The child’s mother is Candice Dempsey of Lawrenceburg.

Hellard said evidence that Frazier should not have had his son is found in the emergency order of protection and summons issued by Nelson Circuit Judge John David Seay.

In a domestic violence petition/motion filed May 13, Timothy Frazier requested that temporary custody of the child be granted to him, his mother and his father.

However, in the EPO issued by Nelson Circuit Court, the box that would have awarded temporary custody of the child was left unchecked and the lines on which the child’s name and awardees would have been written were left blank.

Seay also signed off on the petition filed by Frazier, to grant the EPO and order Dempsey to stay away from Frazier and not damage his property, but wrote, “If petitioner believes the child is in danger when with respondent, he is referred to appropriate location of Cabinet for Health and Family Services or to law enforcement.”

But Frazier was given custody of the child when the EPO was issued.

Hellard said Lawrenceburg police officers showed up at Dempsey’s home and said there was a court order to remove the child from the home.

Dempsey told the officers that Frazier should not have custody of the child, Hellard said. But the child was taken from Dempsey and given to Frazier.

The City of Lawrenceburg issued a statement through City Attorney Robert Myles saying the city police department became involved in the matter on May 14.

“The department’s actions were limited to the service of a court order issued by the Nelson County District Court on that date,” the statement says. “The facts show that the Lawrenceburg Police Department did nothing more than carry out the instructions of the Nelson District Court.”

The statement says that the actions of police department personnel were reviewed.

“With recognition of the gravity of the events, the City of Lawrenceburg stands fully and unequivocally in support of its personnel. City police officers performed their duty in a proper and professional manner and bear no responsibility for the criminal acts that unfolded nearly two weeks later.”

The city also expressed its “sincere sympathy to the family of Cole Frazier.”

“The tragic events of May 29, 2009 are a reminder to us all that despite the best efforts of those involved in the legal system, unexpected and unanticipated results can occur. On a daily basis, the courts, attorneys, social workers and police officers give their best to the citizens they serve. Ultimately, in this instance, all of those efforts were undone by the unimaginable actions of Cole’s father.”

Hellard said Dempsey wants other parents to know they should check court orders thoroughly if they are ever in a similar situation.

“A parent does not have a superior right to parent a child over another parent,” Hellard said.

“Nobody has a right to take a child away” if a court order is absent, Hellard said.

The incident that led to the child being taken away occurred on May 13, Hellard said.

Dempsey and Frazier were in a vehicle together in Bardstown and an argument started. Based on Frazier’s actions, Dempsey, who was driving, stopped the car and motioned for someone else to call the police, Hellard said.

Bardstown Police came to the scene. There were no resulting charges, but a “JC-3” or child abuse, adult abuse and domestic abuse standard report was filed. This initial report lists Dempsey as the victim and Frazier as the perpetrator.

After the incident, Hellard said Frazier filed for the EPO at the courthouse.

Frazier’s EPO petition/motion lists Dempsey as the respondent.

“Candice began to get angry with me (and) threaten(ed) to wreck all three of us while son in car,” Frazier wrote in the petition. He also said Dempsey threatened to “kill me when I go to sleep” and alleged that she was on “illegal pain pills.”

Frazier wrote that he wanted custody of his son because he feared for his safety.

According to the EPO petition, Frazier and Dempsey had a custody action pending in Anderson Circuit Court.

For the complete obituary for Cole Lance Frazier, see page A5.

E-mail Shannon Mason Brock at sbrock@theandersonnews.com.