Ewing Township, NJ — In 2018, officer Daniel Bannister was arrested for murdering a three-month-old baby girl — his own daughter. While this is horrifying enough, TFTP learned a year later that after this cop allegedly murdered his own daughter, he used her death to start a GoFundMe page and raised $17,618.
Since then, he has been in jail awaiting trial, but his blue privilege continues to shine through as he has just been released this month after a judge decided to exclude key evidence in the case.
At the time, Bannister was arrested and charged with murdering three-month-old Hailey Rose. His wife, Catherine Bannister was also arrested and charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child.
According to prosecutors, Hailey was killed in December 2018 after suffering traumatic injuries, inflicted by Bannister. Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said in a statement that this was an “ongoing pattern of abuse.”
An investigation was launched in December 2018 after an autopsy revealed Hailey’s cause of death was due to blunt impact trauma to her head, including multiple skull fractures and a subdural hemorrhage.
“The nature of Hailey’s injuries indicated an ongoing pattern of abuse,” Onofri said in the statement.
Eventually, Hailey’s death would be ruled a homicide and detectives from Mercer County would launch an investigation into the suspicious nature of her injuries.
Shortly after his daughter’s death in December, Bannister was suspended with pay. During this time, the family setup a GoFundMe that said Hailey had suffered a “catastrophic brain injury.” The campaign raised $17,618 for funeral expenses and medical bills.
Shameful indeed, but not nearly as shameful as what’s happening now. As NJ.com reports:
Early in the investigation, detectives confiscated the couple’s cell phones and applied for a warrant to examine the calls and texts, court documents show. The information was key to charging the couple in July 2019, as they allegedly revealed “extensive” communications about Daniel allegedly abusing the girl.
This past September, though, Mercer County Judge Darlene Pereksta suppressed the cell phone evidence, ruling that the detectives did not have probable cause of criminality to access the phones, Daniel’s attorney Jeffrey G. Garrigan said.
Though Garrigan is bringing the credibility of the medical examiner into question, the original fact, even without her testimony, are incriminating enough — up to and including his wife’s own admission that he was abusing their daughter.
The prosecution has appealed the decision but that appeal won’t be heard until late March. In the mean time, Bannister is a free man. That cell phone evidence is key in the case as it has texts from Catherine Bannister to her husband where she repeatedly told him that she was concerned with his abuse of Hailey, which had left bruises on her face, head and body, according to investigators.
Photos of the baby’s injuries were also texted, with the words, “hopefully the doctor won’t see it.” These texts were why Catherine is also facing charges — she helped to cover it up.
Catherine also sent several messages to her friend, telling her that she was worried about her “abusive” husband and the way he hurt their daughter, and asked her friend not to tell anyone.
Now, however, none of this information will ever see the light of day.
Before his arrest, Bannister had been with the Mercer County Police Department since 2017. With the removal of this evidence, he could very well be back on the force next month.