Family of Deanna Cook, Woman Murdered During Botched 911 Response, Sues City [Updated]
[Update, 10:30 a.m. follows] On Aug. 19, worried family members arrived at Deanna Cook's home. It was a Sunday, and she hadn't showed up for church, which wasn't like her. When they arrived, they found Cook's two dogs running loose, barking frantically, and noticed water leaking form the garage. Their knocks went unanswered and, when they called 911 from a cell phone, the call taker was dismissive, telling them to check the jail or local hospital.
Instead, they went to the back of the house and kicked in the patio door. The house was filled with an overwhelmingly foul stench, and the family could tell that the door to Cook's bedroom had been kicked in. They found her body in the bathroom, her partially clad body half in, half out of the overflowing bathtub.
It emerged over the next few days just how poorly Dallas police handled the situation. Cook had called 911 and was begging and gasping for help for 11 minutes as her former husband, 35-year-old Delveccio Patrick, allegedly choked her to death. The police that eventually arrived at her home nearly an hour later knocked on doors and checked windows but, after getting no answer, left.
One 911 call taker was fired, another disciplined, and the police department implemented a new, more urgent call classification to alert officers when there is ongoing danger during a domestic violence dispute. That was, of course, cold comfort to Cook's family who, as Wilonsky was the first to note this morning, filed a lawsuit.
The suit paints a picture of a systemic failure of Dallas' emergency response. Tonyita Hopkins, the call taker who spoke to Cook, was working overtime that day. She knew immediately what block Cook was calling from, if not the exact address, and could have immediately sent officers on their way, but she didn't. Her immediate supervisor, Kimberly Cole, was out of the room in violation of the 911 call center's policy, so Hopkins had to turn to Johnnye Wakefield for assistance. Wakefield told Hopkins to hang up on Cook and call her back. That call that went straight to voicemail.