Botched 911 Call

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GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116
Botched 911 Call

This 911 call was clearly mishandled. My ex has been assigned to this case and after listening to the call said that it was clear that she was being murdered during the call, yet the dispatcher didn't put any of that information through to the officers assigned to go to the house, or put it through as a priority call. Then 2 days later when concerned relatives went to the house and saw water pouring out from under the door, the dispatcher told them to call a plumber. These dispatchers made huge mistakes and I think they may have a case as far as that part goes. My question is... should this be a civil rights case? How would the dispatcher have known the color of her skin in how they handled the case?

DALLAS (AP) - The family of a Dallas woman found dead two days after she tried to call 911 during a deadly attack filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and local police Wednesday.

Deanna Cook called 911 on Aug. 17 to report that her ex-husband was assaulting her. Police have acknowledged the call was not logged correctly so the responding officers did not know it was an emergency. The two officers who went to Cook's south Dallas home received no response at the door and left without entering, police said.

Cook was found dead in her bathtub on Aug. 19 after Cook's relatives forced their way into the home. The ex-husband, Delvecchio Patrick, is charged with murder.

Police fired one call taker who told worried family members searching for Cook on Aug. 19 to call the jail and local hospitals first. The call taker who received Cook's original call was suspended for 10 days. Police say they have also made changes to how calls are logged and announced they are hiring more call takers.

The federal lawsuit alleges police were late responding to the call and relied on officers who didn't properly investigate. It accuses the city of violating Cook's due process and equal protection rights by failing to implement necessary policies.

Cook's family said Wednesday that police have refused to let them hear the tape of Cook's call. Police have also declined to release a transcript.

However, the lawsuit says Cook was screaming and begging for help during the call, and Chief David Brown has said the attack on Cook can be heard in the background.

It was 50 minutes before officers arrived at Cook's home, according to the lawsuit.

Attorney Nick Pittman said the officers stopped twice on the way - for a burglary call and a personal trip to 7-Eleven. He said the officers acknowledged the 7-Eleven stop in internal interview reports he reviewed.

Pittman described authorities' response last month as a "comedy of errors."

"They have long had a policy of not taking the 911 call center seriously," Pittman said.

Dallas police declined to comment Wednesday. A spokesman for the city did not return a message.

Family members also said they felt police shortchanged Cook because she was black and lived in south Dallas.

"I would like for it to be understood how Dallas Police Department responds to certain victims, no matter what the crime is," said Valecia Battle, one of Cook's sisters. "I think it needs to be understood that it does play a role what your class is. Your gender does play a role. Your race does play a role."

Read more: Slain Dallas woman's family sues over 911 call - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

This 911 call was clearly mishandled. My ex has been assigned to this case and after listening to the call said that it was clear that she was being murdered during the call, yet the dispatcher didn't put any of that information through to the officers assigned to go to the house, or put it through as a priority call. Then 2 days later when concerned relatives went to the house and saw water pouring out from under the door, the dispatcher told them to call a plumber. These dispatchers made huge mistakes and I think they may have a case as far as that part goes. My question is... should this be a civil rights case? How would the dispatcher have known the color of her skin in how they handled the case?

Read more: Slain Dallas woman's family sues over 911 call - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

To the bolded: Has that been made public? I didn't read that in the story.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

"ClairesMommy" wrote:

To the bolded: Has that been made public? I didn't read that in the story.

I'm not sure if that part has been reported in the media, it does say she was fired, she also told them to check the jails and hospitals.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I dont know. I know from my husbands experience, the police rely a lot on the dispatchers take of the call. For example, if you child dials 911 by accident and there is a huge argument going on in the background, they will prioritize a lot higher than if they can hear mom calmly talking to another child in the background. There is just not enough time to respond to everything right away, so if the dispatcher screwed that up, it is huge! I would think that if she lived in a primarily low income African American neighborhood, then it could be argued that they could argue the colour of her skin played a role.

Joined: 05/23/12
Posts: 680

I am not sure how the can prove racial discrimination here. I mean, sometimes you can tell the race of a person on the phone by their voice and sometimes you can't. Proving dispatch knew she was black would be tough I think. The other way to guess is by address, if her address is a primarily black neighborhood. Seems sort of tough to prove. However the call was extremely mishandled and is infuriating. This poor woman! For some reason she was not taken seriously and I think lots of people need to be fired.

wlillie's picture
Joined: 09/17/07
Posts: 1796

I don't think her skin color would have to do with anything as you can't see skin color over the phone, but her class might have played a part in it. It sounds like burnt out cops and a burnt out call taker. I can't believe they weren't all fired immediately. 7-eleven? Really?

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

It took them 50 minutes to respond to a call where the woman is screaming her head off that she's being murdered??? Shame on those cops. Shame on that operator. A few years ago Tiven accidentally dialed 911, practicing what she'd learned at preschool even though we didn't have an emergency. I took the phone away from her & assured the operator that everything was fine and it was a mistake. The cops still showed up about 10 minutes later just to check on us.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

I have to agree. This article goes into a little more detail. It just seems like everyone down the line dropped the ball. So sad.

"Ms. Cook was screaming at the top of her lungs in fear, begging for assistance from the 911 call center," the 29-page complaint states.
Cook claims says co-defendant Tonyita Hopkins, the city employee who took the call, could have immediately dispatched a police officer, but "deserted her post in violation of Dallas Police Department policy" and co-defendant Johnnye Wakefield, another employee, had to take the call.
"From the tone of Ms. Cook's voice and statements that her life was in jeopardy, it was or should have been obvious to Tonyita Hopkins and Johnnye Wakefield that there was a physical disturbance in Ms. Cook's home and that her life was being threatened," the complaint states. "Despite that it was apparent Ms. Cook being threatened, attacked and was in fear of her life, it took nearly ten minutes to finally initiate a 'dispatch' request for officers to go to Ms. Cook's southeast Dallas home." Cook says the 911 call lasted 11 minutes and that at some point, Wakefield told Hopkins to disconnect the call and call Cook back, resulting in her voicemail picking up. She claims that they did not notify a police dispatch supervisor or follow up to ensure police dispatch had sent officers to the home.
And she claims co-defendant Yaminah Mitchell, the relief police dispatcher, failed to prioritize the call, but allowed officers to volunteer to respond to the call. She says the officers who did volunteer, co-defendants Julie Menchaca and Amy Wilburn, stopped en route to investigate a residential burglary alarm, then stopped at a 7-Eleven store and asked to be taken off the call.
Cook says that 50 minutes after the 911 call was placed, the officers finally arrived at her daughter's home and "simply knocked on the door and had someone call Ms. Cook's cellular phone. Not surprisingly, the call went to voicemail."
"While at the residence, officers Menchaca and Wilburn were aware that Ms. Cook had previously reported claims of domestic violence and stalking," the complaint states.
"Nevertheless, shortly before they arrived, officers Menchaca and Wilburn left, without performing any additional investigation of Ms. Cook's whereabouts, her residence, or her 911 call."
Two days later, Cook's family found her dead in the bathtub.

Courthouse News Service

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

I'm not seeing how this is the cops fault, at all! If they were not given the proper information, than there was nothing they could do about it. If you are told something is not a priority, and you have something else to do, then you do the something else first. As for only knocking on the door, if they did not know the content of the original call, and they couldnt hear noises from inside the residence, then they had no grounds to enter the house. The only other thing they MAY have been able to do would be to walk around the outside and look in the windows which may or may not have helped.

When my BIL committed suicide, he called 911 first and left the phone off the hook. The cop came, knocked and left her card wedged in the door. To her it was just a call with dead space on the other end. Because there was no sounds of an altercation and it wasn't a priority call, she saw no reason to even walk around the building. If she had, she would have found his body, which I believe was his intention in the first place.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

"ftmom" wrote:

I'm not seeing how this is the cops fault, at all! If they were not given the proper information, than there was nothing they could do about it. If you are told something is not a priority, and you have something else to do, then you do the something else first. As for only knocking on the door, if they did not know the content of the original call, and they couldnt hear noises from inside the residence, then they had no grounds to enter the house. The only other thing they MAY have been able to do would be to walk around the outside and look in the windows which may or may not have helped.

The dispatcher bears most of the blame for this. There is no way that the officers knew that this was a priority call. The only thing I can see is that it said they had information of previous calls of stalking and domestic violence. I'm not sure if this is true and how they would have known that. If they did then it seems like they should have investigated a little more.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

Don't cops have computers in their cars? I thought that was pretty standard now. If so, then IMHO they are definitely at some fault as they should have viewed the history of that address both to know what they might be headed for, and to know how to best follow up if they didn't find anything at first glance. If the history showed domestic violence, then a man answering the door saying everything is fine might not be acceptable since it was a woman who called, kwim? Or if no one answers, the best response might be to go around back, look in windows, ask the manager to open the door, etc. and not just leave.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

"Spacers" wrote:

Don't cops have computers in their cars? I thought that was pretty standard now. If so, then IMHO they are definitely at some fault as they should have viewed the history of that address both to know what they might be headed for, and to know how to best follow up if they didn't find anything at first glance. If the history showed domestic violence, then a man answering the door saying everything is fine might not be acceptable since it was a woman who called, kwim? Or if no one answers, the best response might be to go around back, look in windows, ask the manager to open the door, etc. and not just leave.

They don't have laptops or anything it is just basically a screen they can use to access the mainframe. It is not that high tech they can do searches on a license plate and look for warrants on a person and stuff but I don't know if it has detailed history showing previous calls on an address. IF they did have access to that information as the article states then I agree they should have followed up a little more. But a lot of it still goes back to the priority of the call. They knew NOTHING about what the dispatcher had heard when they got to that door, and even called back in to dispatch to have them try and call her back. At that point dispatch STILL didn't tell them what they had heard, they just tried to call her again and got no answer.

ftmom's picture
Joined: 09/04/06
Posts: 1538

"Spacers" wrote:

Don't cops have computers in their cars? I thought that was pretty standard now. If so, then IMHO they are definitely at some fault as they should have viewed the history of that address both to know what they might be headed for, and to know how to best follow up if they didn't find anything at first glance. If the history showed domestic violence, then a man answering the door saying everything is fine might not be acceptable since it was a woman who called, kwim? Or if no one answers, the best response might be to go around back, look in windows, ask the manager to open the door, etc. and not just leave.

Just tapped my source Smile Here they can access that info on the car computer, but it is not routine to do so, most of that information is routed through dispatch (if they have a question they would ask dispatch to look it up for them) so that they are not as distracted. He also said that not all systems are created equal so not all cops in different cities could look up the same info.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

"ftmom" wrote:

Just tapped my source Smile Here they can access that info on the car computer, but it is not routine to do so, most of that information is routed through dispatch (if they have a question they would ask dispatch to look it up for them) so that they are not as distracted. He also said that not all systems are created equal so not all cops in different cities could look up the same info.

This is the system that Dallas uses.

http://www.versaterm.com/products/mobiles/mdt1.pdf

I'm not sure if they have the map part though, they have been using it for a long time, at least over 10 years.