Johnneisha Kemper was a teenage mother six years ago. After a dispute with her birth mother that left her newborn daughter locked inside her mother’s home, Kemper called police. Instead of helping her and despite the lack of imminent danger to the child, a requirement in protective custody cases, her child was taken. Six years later, San Diego will settle with Kemper – to the tune of a paltry $225, 000.
KSND San Diego reports:
Kemper had her daughter, Nyhanna,with her while visiting her mother in San Diego in 2008. She had just been released from the hospital, when Kemper said she had a dispute with her mother.
Her mother locked her out of the house, with her baby still inside. Kemper said she called San Diego Police hoping they would help intervene but instead they took her child.
And from there the legal battle began.
Attorney Shawn McMillan helped Kemper file a civil rights lawsuit against San Diego County, the social workers involved, City of San Diego and the Police officers who initially took the baby.
The lawsuit said police officers took the baby even though there was no immediate threat to the child.
“The first thing they have to ask themselves is before they act at all, is, is this child in immediate danger of suffering severe bodily injury or death at the hands of the parent,” McMillan said.
A foster child herself, Kemper was living in the Los Angeles area at the time.
At 16, she had no driver’s license but said she tried her best to get to San Diego to do what the court required.
“Within that six months I had to go to counseling, go to parenting classes, and take drug tests. I had regulatory visits every Tuesday,” she recalled.
Eventually, the court terminated her parental rights and Nyhanna was adopted.
“After they did that, that was the end. I lost everything,” Kemper said.
“I can’t do anything to get her back. I just have to sit and accept the fact that oh, I have a daughter but she’s just somewhere out there,” she said.
Kemper’s lawyer says she has little chance of ever getting her child back. It’s a cautionary tale, one that Kemper hopes will help someone else.