Lawsuit against police dismissed in Tyler/Ariana Payne case

A recap: Tyler and Ariana Payne were abducted by their non-custodial father, Christopher Payne, in Tucson, Arizona in 2006. He took them from their mother, Jamie Hallam, for what was supposed to be a few days, and never gave them back. Hallam had full custody of the kids, who hadn’t seen their father in years. He had no visitation rights, but he convinced Hallam to let him see the kids. After a few months of trying to get Christopher to return the children, Hallam called the police. They located the children, but on the (bad) advice of Arizona’s Child Protective Services, refused to return them to their mother. Christopher, you see, had filed for temporary custody. Never mind that no decision had been made and Hallam, their mother who had raised them from birth without Christopher’s help, still had full custody. Never mind that Christopher was $19,000 behind in his child support payments. The kids stayed with their father.

A few months later, Tyler and Ariana were both dead, having been systematically starved and abused by their father and their stepmother, Reina Gonzales. Ariana’s body turned up in a storage locker in 2007, after Christopher the Genius stopped making the rent payments. (Way to evade detection, dumbass.) Tyler’s was never found. Christopher was sentenced to death and Gonzales to 22 years for the kids’ murders.

Hallam filed a lawsuit against CPS and the Tucson PD, arguing — quite rightly — that if they had just done their damn jobs properly and returned the kids to her, the custodial parent, then they wouldn’t have died. CPS settled and admitted they made “mistakes” in the case. And (I just found this out), back in October, the case against the police department was dismissed. According to this article:

In a nine-page decision released today, Judge Carmine Cornelio said there was no evidence on that day “that there was a high probability that substantial harm would result from their failure to remove the children from (Christopher Payne’s) custody and care.”


In his ruling, Cornelio pointed out the first time there was any indication there was anything wrong in the Payne household was in mid-April when one of Payne’s relatives said Ariana appeared “dirty and scrawny” and when Gonzales said Payne lost his job and began abusing the children.

“Given the lack of temporal connection between the time of TPD’s visit to Payne’s apartment on March 9, 2006, and any evidence concerning the abuse and neglect, plaintiffs cannot establish causation between TPD’s actions and the abuse of the children,” Cornelio wrote.