MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CN) – It took police 9 days to find the body of former NBA player Lorenzen Wright, who was shot dead a year ago, because 911 dispatchers ignored his call for help, and because the City of Germantown had turned off cops’ access to an Internet program that could have pinpointed the origin of Wright’s call, because cops had been abusing their Internet access, Wright’s family says in two federal complaints.
Wright’s body was found outside Germantown on July 28, 2010, riddled with gunshots. His body weighed a mere 57 lbs. after exposure to heat, rain and wild animals, his family says.
In separate federal complaints, both filed this week, Wright’s ex-wife and parents tell similar, though slightly different accounts of what happened.
According to his parents, Wright called a 911 dispatcher in Germantown on the morning he was shot.
His parents say, “the unknown 911 dispatcher for the City of Germantown who received the call from Lorenzen Wright’s cell phone heard a garbled expletive and as many as 10 gunshots.”
Wright’s parents say the dispatcher tried to call back but when no one answered, did nothing more.
“Based upon information and belief, the unknown 911 call dispatcher for the City of Germantown did not inform a supervisor of this call until eight (8) days had passed on or about July, 27, 2010,” his parents say.
Wright’s ex-wife, Sherra Robinson Wright, sued 911 dispatchers Claudia Kelney-Woods and Chris Rowlson and their supervisor Lt. Donald Taylor, claiming Taylor knew about the call but decided not to investigate or pass on the information.
She says Wright was supposed to return to her home the night of July 18, 2010 to spend time with his six children, but never showed.
He called 911 in the early morning of July 19, 2010.
“Upon information and belief, during the aforementioned emergency 911 call, the dispatchers heard the voice of an unidentified African-American male voice uttering an expletive and at least ten to twelve audible gunshots,” according to his ex-wife’s complaint.
Rowlson allegedly hung up the phone to handle the police radio and Kenley-Woods tried twice to call Wright’s cell phone back. Lt. Taylor asked Kenley-Woods about the situation, according to Wright’s ex-wife.
“Dispatcher Kenley-Woods advised Lt. Taylor that she did not see the caller’s location on the ANI/ALI screen (which is the computer software used to locate the origin of 911 emergency phone calls). However, they were able to obtain the latitude and longitude of the origin of the emergency 911 call from said system,” according to the complaint. [Parentheses in complaint.]
The complaint continues: “Upon information and belief, the Germantown Police Department Dispatch Center did not have Internet access at the employee’s console on the morning of July 19, 2010. The Germantown Police Department Dispatch Center had previously had Internet access at the employee’s consoles. However, the Germantown Police Department blocked employee’s access to the Internet at the Dispatch Center as a result of the misuse and abuse of said resource by certain employees at the Dispatch Center.
“Upon information and belief, Lt. Donald Taylor attempted to plot the latitude and longitude pertaining to the call that appeared on the ANI/ALI screen, using an iPhone application on his iPhone cellular phone upon realizing that Dispatcher Kenley-Woods did not have access to the Internet to accomplish said task.
“Upon information and belief, when Lt. Donald Taylor entered the latitude and longitude into his iPhone’s map application, he was unable to obtain an exact display of the map of the location, but was able to determine that said location was outside the City of Germantown’s jurisdiction.”
“Upon information and belief, Dispatcher Rowlson overheard Dispatcher Kenley-Woods ask Lt. Donald Taylor whether they ‘…should [we] call county or Memphis?’ and ‘should [we] pass this on?’ in reference to the aforementioned emergency 911 call.
“Upon information and belief, Lt. Taylor determined that the call ‘… [was] just an unknown call from an unknown location’ and failed to report the call to his supervisor and/on-duty patrol supervisor. Further, neither Lt. Taylor nor anybody else from the Germantown Police Department Dispatch Center alerted or disclosed said emergency 911 call to neighboring jurisdictions and /or the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department,” [Brackets as in complaint.]
Both Wright’s ex-wife and parents also sued the City of Collierville, claiming it did not thoroughly investigate a missing persons report filed by his mother.
Wright’s ex-wife says Collierville did not investigate his cell phone records, and did not contact neighboring jurisdictions until the media started talking about the case.
Wright’s mother, Deborah Marion, says she contacted local media when she realized that Collierville was not going to do anything about her report.
Wright’s parents also sued Shelby County; his ex-wife did not.
According to Wright’s parents, “it was the policy and procedure of the County of Shelby, Tennessee to not monitor and ensure that local law enforcement agencies were cooperating on matters such as 911 calls and missing person reports.
“Based upon information and belief, not until July 27, 2010 did the unknown 911 call dispatcher from the City of Germantown, who received the initial 911 call from Lorenzen Wright’s cell phone on July 19, 2010, inform the supervisor of the 911 call.”
Wrights ex says, “On or about July 28, 2010, amid mounting public scrutiny and pressure from local and national media, the Collierville Police Department sought the direct assistance of the City of Memphis Police Department with respect to the deceased’s missing persons’ investigation.
“Upon information and belief, on or about July 28, 2010, the Memphis Police Department discovered the aforementioned 911 call made to Germantown Police Department Dispatch Center on or about the morning of July 19, 2010.”
Wright’s ex-wife adds: “On or about July 28, 2010, the City of Memphis Police Department, using the same information available to the Germantown Police Department and Dispatch Center where the aforementioned 911 call was originally received, was able to locate the deceased’s remains within minutes of learning the latitude and longitude of the aforementioned 911 call.”
Both lawsuits claim that when the authorities found Wright’s body he was an unrecognizable 57 pounds after being exposed to rain, extreme heat, and animals and insects for nine days. He weighed 225 pounds before his death.
Wright’s parents, Deborah Marion and Herbert Wright on behalf of his Estate and his children, seek $2 million in damages and charge the Cities of Germantown and Collierville and Shelby County with violations of the 14th Amendment, negligence, gross negligence, wrongful death and mishandling a human corpse.
Sherra Robinson Wright, Wright’s ex-wife, on behalf of her six minor children, seeks $2 million in damages and accuses Germantown, its Police Department, Police Dispatchers Claudia Kelney-Woods and Chris Rowlson, Lt. Donald Taylor, and Collierville and its Police Department with due process violations, failure to train, and negligence.
Wright’s ex-wife is represented by Gail Mathes.
His parents are represented by Paul Craig and Daniel Lofton.
Wright played in the NBA for 13 seasons, for the Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies.