Denver 911 apologizes for deadly instruction
A man was killed after dispatch asked him to return to city limits to discuss an altercation
The Denver Channel
DENVER — Denver officials are apologizing after a man asked by police to return to city limits to discuss an altercation was killed in a drive-by shooting.
Officers received a call at 4:15 a.m. Sunday about an altercation between people riding in a car and a red Jeep in the area of 10th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard.
Police said the argument between the people inside the two vehicles continued northbound on Sheridan Boulevard.
Police received a second call from a person in the victims' car saying their windows had been broken out by men in the Jeep, police said.
Denver police dispatchers told the victims' car, which had left the city limits, to return to a Denver location where officers would meet them, said Denver Police Spokeswoman Raquel Lopez.
The car, with four people inside, returned to West 29th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard and stopped to wait for police, Lopez said.
As the people were standing outside the parked car, the red Jeep, carrying about four men, drove by and opened fire on them, shooting a man in the back, police said.
The Jeep then sped away from the scene.
Officers arrived and the shooting victim, a black man in his early 20s, was transported to Denver Health Medical Center, where he died shortly after 5 a.m., Capt. Ron Saunier said.
"I can tell you at this time our victims do not appear to belong to any gangs," said Saunier.
Saunier said at one point, the victims were following the suspects, possibly to get their license plate information after the car windows were broken out.
Dispatch recordings state that the suspects were using bottle rockets.
Saunier said the victim and others in the car were relatives returning from a family gathering.
The victim's name has not been released by police, but friends identified the victims as Jimma Reat, an immigrant from Sudan.
"He was a good guy. He didn’t deserve to get shot," said Mike Martinez, who had worked with Pal. "I’m pretty sure that it was something stupid. You know, a little argument or something."
Later, police were called to the 200 block of South Zuni Street on reports of gunshots fired in the area, and found an abandoned red Jeep which police were calling the suspect vehicle. Saunier said the Jeep appeared to be "undriveable."
The Jeep was reported stolen Sunday morning, police said.
Police have said they did not have a good description of the suspects.
At the news briefing, Ernie Franssen, the Denver 911 operations manager, apologized that victim was shot and killed after being directed to return to the area by a dispatcher.
Franssen said in violent incidents people typically are not asked to return to the Denver area, because police can travel to meet them outside the city.
Communications officials are reviewing recordings of the 911 calls to determine why dispatchers asked the victims to come back into Denver, Franssen said. He said they want to make sure department policies and procedures were followed.
"We’re absolutely apologetic for the circumstances of the call," said Franssen. "We want to give due diligence to the employee and make sure that we did or didn’t follow the policies as they are written, and we want to take a look and listen to it ourselves and be able to speak to the employee."
Reprinted with permission from The Denver Channel