Wendell Young Apologizes To Plush Family For Comments That "Crossed The Line"

Apr 18, 2018

Cincinnati Council Member Wendell Young has apologized to Kyle Plush's family for remarks he made Tuesday during a council committee meeting that upset them.

"I never intentionally use language that is meant to harm anyone," Young said Wednesday. "I am extremely sorry that the language I used caused them additional hurt and pain. I want to offer my sincere apologies for that."

Plush's family sat quietly for most of Tuesday's meeting in the front row of the council chamber listening, but they abruptly left as Council Member Wendell Young remarked, "I suspect there will be attempts to do what the law allows to be done to try in some way to make up for what happened with you, but there is no amount of money that's going to make you happy."

"This is not about money," Plush's father, Ron, shouted.

"This is the most insensitive thing I've ever heard," said another family member. "You guys were doing wonderful till this guy started talking. You've crossed the line."

Young said he never intended for his words to cause hurt.

Kyle Plush died last week after calling 911 twice. He told the first call-taker he was stuck inside his van in the parking lot at Seven Hills School. A police car was dispatched but the officers were unable to locate the vehicle since they didn't have a description.

Plush's second call to 911 was answered by a different dispatcher. He provided more detailed information about the vehicle in that call, but it reportedly was never shared with the officers who were still on the scene.

Mayor John Cranley welcomed Young's apology to the Plush family. He said Young should also apologize to the city's chief performance officer, Leigh Tami, "who spoke courageously in these chambers and had her professionalism attacked by you, and I think it was awful," Cranley said.

Cranley said Tami and other city employees are talking to help fix the problems.  

Young responded that he will not be lectured by Cranley about how to treat people. "There are many of us who are aware of the way you treat people, you do it right here in these chambers, we've all seen it," Young said. "If someone wants to lecture me, choose another person, but not you."

Young said it was right to ask Tami questions and he felt it was appropriate.

There were many questions asked about the actions of the city's Emergency Communications Center (ECC) and two police officers who responded to the scene at the Seven Hills School.

Many went unanswered Tuesday because Police Chief Eliot Isaac said those details are still being investigated. He suggested the initial report on the incident should be available in 10 days.

Council Member Greg Landsman said Young's apology was warranted, and council needs to focus on the bigger picture.

"We're trying to get to the bottom of this, to fix this and to do so in a way that honors the memory of Kyle Plush," Landsman said.

Kyle Plush, 16, died in his car April 10 after calling 911 twice stating he was stuck inside his van.
Credit Provided / Plush Family

City Manager Harry Black said he will also have an outside agency review the incident once the police department's probe is complete.

Council members heard the ECC is understaffed, morale is low, and that personnel are under constant pressure to learn new technology on an accelerated structure.

Others offering testimony said that some of the people who manage the center don't understand emergency communications and dispatching; others say the center has lost most of its subject matter experts.