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Kristine Kirk murder and 911: Sixty dispatcher complaints in two years and another death

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Kristine Kirk. See more photos and videos below.
Following Richard Kirk's alleged murder of wife Kristine Kirk (see our previous coverage below), most of the attention has focused on the question of whether a marijuana edible had caused the hallucinations and erratic behavior that resulted in her tragic death. But partly lost in this debate has been a delay in sending police officers to the Kirks' residence. Kristine was on the phone with a 911 operator when she was slain, and the conversation lasted ten-minutes plus.

Is there a systemic problem with 911 in Denver? A new report reveals more than sixty complaints against dispatchers in the past two years, with the most egregious case leading to another death.

In our earlier coverage, we noted that Kristine called 911 to say Richard was behaving strangely after possibly eating a marijuana edible. He was allegedly hallucinating, talking about the end of the world and declaring his intention to shoot her -- which he did, while she was still on the line with the dispatcher.

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Booking photos of Richard Kirk linked to a previous DUI arrest.
Previous reports have estimated the length of the call at twelve minutes, but a new Fox31 investigation puts it at thirteen minutes. Moreover, a police station is only a short distance away from the Kirks' home on St. Paul Street, near the DU campus; the station notes that officers were less than a mile away at the time of the fatal shooting. If they'd been dispatched immediately, some observers believe a tragedy might have been averted.

This is hardly the first 911 call to generate concern. A public-records request made by Fox31 reveals that more than sixty complaints against dispatchers were collected over the course of the past two years. The majority of the time, the station reveals, no written reprimands were issued after such incidents. Rather, the operators received coaching and counseling.

That's what happened in the case of Juan Jesus Rodriguez, a dispatcher who's the focus of a lawsuit filed by the family of Jimma Reat, who died just over two years ago following a botched 911 call. Rodriguez was fired as a result of the Reat matter, but he received little more than a wrist slap months earlier in a separate case that involved a delay in sending responders -- the same thing that occurred with Kristine Kirk.

Early on April 1, 2012, as we've reported, Reat and two of his brothers, Changkuoth Pal and Ran Pal, as well as Joseph Kolong, were in a vehicle near the intersection of 10th and Sheridan when a Jeep Cherokee pulled up alongside their car. The Jeep's male occupants began "harassing and attempting to injure" the four young men, according to the original lawsuit.

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Jimma Reat.
The men in the Jeep are said to have called Reat and friends "niggers" while throwing beer bottles and what's described as "bottle rockets" at them. The back window of Reat's car was shattered in the altercation, showering the occupants with broken glass. In addition, one of the Jeep's occupants brandished a handgun.

At that point, the suit's narrative continues, Ran Pal phoned 911 to report the crime and get emergency police and medical assistance. The call was answered by Rodriguez. During the conversation, the victims were able to elude the men in the Jeep and find relative safety at an apartment building's parking lot in Wheat Ridge, approximately seven and a half blocks west of Denver's city limits -- and Ran Pal is said to have told the operator that he was too unsettled by the occurrence to feel comfortable driving.

Nonetheless, Rodriguez told them they needed to drive back to Denver in order to rendezvous with DPD officers, and though wary, they eventually acquiesced. But the complaint maintains that the operator didn't do anything to secure police dispatch until about one minute after the shooting, nor did he create an incident report. Moreover, the suit says, he told the victims that once they had moved their car to a suitable spot, they should make themselves prominent to officers by turning on their hazard lights and leaving them flashing.

Rodriguez was still on the phone with Ran Pal when the car came to a stop in the vicinity of West 29th and Sheridan -- at which point the Jeep Cherokee rematerialized and its occupants opened fire. Jimma Reat died at the scene in Ran Pal's arms, having been shot in the back.

Afterward, Rodriguez's actions were immediately put under scrutiny -- and as a result, a previously unreported problem with a different 911 call belatedly surfaced.

Continue for more about complaints against 911 operators and the investigation into Kristine Kirk's murder, including photos, videos and more.



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15 comments
arch.design.eng.hamp
arch.design.eng.hamp

We havent started playing cowboys and cops yet......oh but when we do....let the games begin

Mark Hendryx
Mark Hendryx

Not only that but are we forgetting that this is essentially a domestic violence case with a handgun in the house... OOOH but a pot cookie was involved?! Media BS

Donny Davis
Donny Davis

There were no violent crimes attributed to marijuana until it became legal. I don't even use it, but this is ridiculous. It's an attack by the opposers of its legalization. Get 80000 drunks together with no incidents then come talk to me.

Maggie May
Maggie May

There hasn't been an increase in police spending since 2008. Meanwhile, this is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. It needs to be a priority. But of course the Supreme Court says they don't have a duty to protect.

esimmons2000
esimmons2000

Reminds me of joke where caller says someone breaking into his shed. Cops say no one available. Calls back saying "never mind, I shot them". Cops arrive instantly. They get the guys in the shed, still very much alive. Cops asks " I thought you shot them ?". Guy says " I was told no cops were available !"

Chad Kautzer
Chad Kautzer

"All the debate" was because you also headlined your story with that nonsense. I remember commenting on your original story that you buried the lead: dispatcher failure. Take some responsibility for your previous and sensationalist reporting. Reporting on previous reporting as if it was a weather report is the weakest form of journalism. Fess up.

seanmilano
seanmilano

The problem is lack of manpower.  Everyone bitches about taxes and the "police state."  Well, without higher taxes to pay for more police, this is what you get.  

xyzabc
xyzabc

I worked with a woman who was a DPD dispatcher at her "second" job.  What a "screw worm", married w kids and carrying on an affair with another co-worker where we worked.  She thought she was hot shit - GROSS!!

Sarah Ann Lazanas
Sarah Ann Lazanas

This is absolutely ridiculous. It should never take that long for police to show up when the caller is telling them to hurry. Screw the DPD.

Scott McMahon
Scott McMahon

All the debate has been caused by the papers, especially the Denver Post. Once again shitty one side agenda driven witch hunt reporting has clouded the real issues. Thanks DP

Evelyn Maria
Evelyn Maria

Guess they need more dispatchers so they would be more proactive. It's obvious In this case something went very, very wrong. I remember the girder that fell and killed the entire family on I70. Maybe we need to give dispatchers far more training and supervisor over site god help the family now!

Tom Smith
Tom Smith

Last summer, I was involved in an accident on I-70 near Strausburg. No one was hurt, but our car was spun around and pointing east in the westbound lanes (although we were mostly off the highway). We waited 45 minutes for the State Patrol to show up (they dispatched an officer from Limon since we were technically in that district) while we faced traffic coming at us at 75 mph so they could help get us turned around. Five minutes after the trooper showed up, an ambulnace crew came by to check to make sure no one was hurt (as stated earlier, no one was).

Jeff Iddings
Jeff Iddings

I'm a bit of a scanner nerd -- I listen to dispatch calls in my sad lonely spare time... ;) I'm always SHOCKED at how long it takes to dispatch a call. Sometimes fairly serious concerns will go unchecked for over a hour. It's stunning. I don't specifically blame the police for this, they're probably overwhelmed/under staffed, but it's a huge problem.

Cm Fairbanks
Cm Fairbanks

It took 12 min to get to a house, When3 scared kids were in the house, a gun was noted in the house. And a crazy man. It was easier to play the 1908 Weed will make you eat babies kind of B/S. Rather then Her death could have been prevented if we had made her a priority. Something is obviously wrong with your system!

Randy Hays
Randy Hays

This is why every woman should own and know how to use a gun. When seconds count, a cop is only minutes away.

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