DENVER, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A federal judge has ruled the city of Denver should be party to a lawsuit alleging a 911 dispatcher mishandled a call that led to a man being shot to death.
The lawsuit alleged 911 dispatcher Juan Jesus Rodriguez failed to identify a potentially dangerous situation when he received an emergency call April 1, 201,2 from a Sudanese refugee who said he and two brothers were being harassed by unidentified Latino men as they drove their car. The caller, Jimma Pal Reat, told Rodriguez the men were following them and one of them waved a gun at them.
Rather than alert police to the incident, Rodriguez told Reat, who was driving to his apartment in the Denver suburb of Wheat Ridge, he would need to return to the city and come to a police station to file a report. Though Reat and his passengers had made it home safely, they followed the instruction, returned to Denver and were spotted by the same unidentified assailants who shot Reat to death.
Denver city attorneys had sought to have the city dropped from the suit but U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty said evidence presented of previous mishandling of an emergency call by Rodriguez meant the city should have to defend the claims in court, the Denver Post reported Monday.
Lawyers for Reat's family said Rodriguez previously failed to identify an emergency situation that compromised safety and the integrity of a potential homicide investigation. In that incident, the lawsuit alleges Rodriguez fielded a call from a teenager who said he may have choked his stepfather to death. Rather than dispatch the call to police within 60 seconds as per protocol, Rodriguez spoke to the caller for more than five minutes.
Supervisors in the 911 call center were made aware of the incident when a police detective complained about how it was handled but failed to discipline Rodriguez.