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911 Dispatcher Told Them to Return to Scene of Crime; One Ended Up Dead

A court just found the dispatcher not liable
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2016 5:20 PM CDT
911 Operator Told Them to Return to Scene of Crime; One Ended Up Dead

A Colorado 911 dispatcher may have been "foolish" and acting "incompetently," but he's not responsible for the death of a Sudanese immigrant four years ago, according to a court ruling Tuesday. The Denver Post reports Jimma Pal Reat, his brother Ran Pal, and others were driving from Denver to their apartment in Wheat Ridge when a red Jeep pulled up next to them. The men in the Jeep yelled racial epithets at Reat and the others, and one brandished a gun. They also threw bottles and bottle rockets hard enough to break the car's window, according to Courthouse News Service. Reat and the others made it back to Wheat Ridge and called 911. Dispatcher Juan Rodriguez, who has since been fired, told them—“for reasons that remain unclear,” per the court ruling—that they'd have to return to the scene of the crime if they wanted help.

"I said, 'I'm here at home, this is where I feel safe so please send somebody,' Pal tells the Denver Channel. "He said, 'No. If you don't go back that way, we won't be able to send anybody, and it's going to be your loss.” After 14 minutes of begging, insisting they were hurt and afraid, Pal and the others agreed to return to Denver. They were standing outside their car when the red Jeep came back and opened fire. Reat was shot and killed, and the suspects have still not been identified. Reat's family sued Rodriguez, but the court found him not liable for Reat's death and ordered the suit dismissed. The court ruled Reat and the others were free to ignore Rodriguez's instructions. "It cannot be said that any of Rodriguez's actions, as foolish as they were, 'limited in some way the liberty of a citizen to act on his own behalf,'" the ruling states, per CNS. (This 911 dispatcher saved a caller by pretending to be her boyfriend.)

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