911 Operator’s Advice Proved Fatal, Family Says

     DENVER (CN) – A Sudanese refugee was gunned down after the 911 operator who received his call for help insisted that he return to a scene where he had just been attacked, his family claims in federal court.
     Jimma Pal Reat had moved to Colorado with his family after escaping from Sudan and spending time in an Ethiopian refugee camp, according to the complaint.
     The 25-year-old was in a car with his brothers, Changkuoth Pal and Ran Pal, and another Sudenese friend, Joseph Kolong, in the early morning hours of April 1, 2012, when a group of Hispanic men allegedly pulled up along side and began harassing them.
     “This group of unidentified males called these plaintiffs and the decedent ‘niggers’ and threw beer bottles and then ‘bottle rockets’ at them, shattering their back windshield and injuring them with a shower of broken glass shards,” the complaint states. “A handgun was also brandished by one of the assailants.”
     Ran Pal says he called 911 as they were being attacked, and that emergency operator Juan Jesus Rodriguez answered the call.
     “Plaintiffs reported to defendant Rodriguez that they were the victims of, and had been injured by, a racially motivated, life-threatening vicious assault by a group of Hispanic males while they were driving home,” according to the complaint.
     “While on the phone with defendant Rodriguez, plaintiff Ran Pal and the other
     passengers managed to elude the men who had attacked them and successfully flee to a place of safety.”
     Though the men told Rodriguez that they had reached an apartment complex in Wheat Ridge, seven and a half blocks west of Denver, Rodriguez insisted that they drive back to Denver.
     “Knowing and acknowledging that these men were injured, in shock, and shouldn’t be driving, defendant Rodriguez decided not to send a police car and ambulance to the young men’s actual location in Wheat Ridge as they requested,” the complaint states.
     The men allegedly emphasized that they “were all to scared to leave,” but Rodriguez said they would have to if they wanted to file a report or receive emergency services.
     “Ran Pal continued to repeat himself, reportedly telling Defendant Rodriguez at least six times that he was injured, in shock, did not want to be driving or return to Denver, and was afraid because the men involved had a gun,” the complaint states.
     “Ignoring the danger of this racially charged in progress assault, the probable nearby location of the assailants, the early morning no traffic nature of the situation, and in blatant conscious disregard for the safety and pressing medical needs of these plaintiffs, defendant Rodriguez continually instructed and pressured Ran Pal and the passengers to drive back to Denver, thereby creating and greatly enhancing the danger to these Plaintiffs that proved fatal for Jimma Reat.”
     Worse yet, Rodriguez also instructed the group to stop their car when they crossed into Denver, “and make themselves prominent and visually apparent by putting their hazard lights on and leaving them flashing,” the complaint states.
     The results were immediate and tragic.
     “Plaintiffs were still on the phone with defendant Rodriguez when the Jeep Cherokee with the assailants pulled up again behind them,” the complaint states. “This same group of males who had attacked them previously now opened gunfire on all of them, with one shot killing Jimma Reat at the scene.
     “Plaintiff Changkuoth Pal cradled Jimma Reat as he was dying.”
     The survivors and Reat’s parents say police were never even on the way.
     “Rodriguez did not even create an incident report of the call that would alert dispatchers and officers to go to the scene he was consciously creating,” the complaint states.
     The complaint blames Denver for instituting a “custom, habit, policy and practice for emergency communications operators to regularly refuse to dispatch units where the victims are safely located, and instead direct them to go back into city limits in the proximity of where the attackers were known to have just been or to still be.”
     Denver allegedly fired Rodriguez in May.
     Reat’s parents, his brothers, and Kolong seek damages for wrongful death, negligence, outrageous conduct, and violation of their 14th Amendment rights.
     The group is represented by John Holland with Holland, Holland Edwards & Grossman.

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