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Family Blames Murder on Bungled 911 Response

DALLAS (CN) - The family of a Dallas woman who was murdered while making a 911 call sued phone manufacturer Samsung and service providers MetroPCS and T-Mobile, over the city's bungled response.

The family of the late Deanna Cook sued the companies, the city and 911 operator Angelia-Herod Graham, on Wednesday in Federal Court.

The family sued the city in Federal Court in September 2012.

According to the new lawsuit: "Cook died as the 911 operator and police dispatcher were unable timely to obtain Ms. Cook's home address, leading to a delay in responding to her life-threatening 911 call. This delay prohibited police and first responders from timely providing police protection and/or medical attention to Ms. Cook, thus allowing her to die."

The family claims that Cook was heard on the call "screaming at the top of her lungs in fear," but an operator told her that "MetroPCS doesn't always have addresses."

"Nearly three minutes into the call, Ms. Cook can be heard begging her attacker to stop and asking the attacker why he kicked her door in to gain entry," the complaint states. "The attacker can be heard asking Ms. Cook if she called the police. Five minutes into the call Ms. Cook can be heard asking her attacker why he is attacking her and stating 'please, please stop it.' Approximately seven minutes into the call, Ms. Cook can be heard telling her attacker 'please, please, please ... why are you doing this to me.' She also screams 'help' repeatedly."

The Cooks claims that it took 10 minutes for the city to initiate a dispatch request for officers to go to her home. They say police arrived 50 minutes after the call was made, but left after looking around the house. Cook's body was discovered by relatives who forced their way into the home two days later, when she failed to show up for church.

Cook's mother, Vickie Cook, said she was told by Herod-Graham that police could not help her get into her daughter's home.

"During a 911 call from Ms. Cook's mother, call taker Angelia Herod-Graham instructed Vickie Cook that the Dallas Police Department would not send officers to Ms. Cook's home and asked whether Ms. Cook's family had contacted the jails and local hospitals to look for Ms. Cook, although they were reporting that Deanna Cook was missing," the complaint states. "Herod-Graham also told Vickie Cook that Ms. Cook had called on August 17, 2012, to report a domestic disturbance. Herod-Graham repeatedly told Vickie Cook that Ms. Cook would have to call the prisons and hospitals before the city of Dallas would send police to the home. 'I just want officers to help us get in the house,' Vickie Cook pleaded. 'Our police can't help you get into the house,' Herod-Graham responded. Vickie Cook continued to beg for help, even telling Herod-Graham there was water pouring from the home. Herod-Graham didn't budge."

Herod-Graham was fired for the incident, but told a civil service board in a reinstatement proceeding that she "didn't refuse to send police, I did what I was trained to do," the complaint states.

The Cook family claims the phone companies misrepresented the "quality, reliability and safety of its wireless cellular telephones, mobile communications and telecommunications technology, all to the detriment of Deanna Cook."

The family claims 911 operators were inadequately trained on standard operating protocol to respond to called from MetroPCS and T-Mobile callers.

Samsung and T-Mobile declined to comment on the lawsuit Thursday, citing practices of not commenting on pending litigation.

The family seeks punitive damages for wrongful death, negligence, gross negligence, products liability, deceptive trade and breach of warranty.

They are represented by Nick Pittman in Dallas.

Follow @davejourno
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