Dallas 911 Operator Says She Couldn't Hear Deanna Cook's Ex-Husband Choking Her
It was the murder of Deanna Cook, more than anything else, that forced the city of Dallas to take a hard look at its 911 call center. There was simply no way to explain away the lackadaisical response to the horrifying, 11-minute 911 call in which Cook pleads for her life as she's attacked by her ex-husband.
That's not to say that City Hall and the Dallas Police Department didn't try to explain it away. They placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of 911 operator Tonyita Hopkins, who resigned after an internal investigation found she hadn't adequately communicated the severity of Cook's plight. Meanwhile, DPD quietly beefed up staffing and reassigned call center's top brass.
Hopkins suggests, with some justification, that she's being used as a scapegoat to cover up deeper problems with the call center. She's laid low since her resignation but spoke at length with NBC's Rock Center, which took a long look at Cook's case and the absurdly slow police response that Friday night.
She contends that she did her job, quickly tracking down an exact address for Cook and relaying the information to officers. She also says she labeled the call "urgent," which she thinks was enough to tell responding officers not to stop at 7-Eleven for water or take a half hour showing up. She says DPD never gave her more specifics on what she did wrong.
"I wanted to know, what critical information should I have entered? If I'm being punished for something, then I need to know why," she told Rock Center.
She also says she heard neither Cook choking nor the man in the background repeatedly threatening to kill her. She was busy by that point searching for an address and says the headsets don't cancel out the background noise of a roomful of other 911 operators.
That said, she says losing her job is a small price to pay for DPD fixing a broken system.
"If the system is broken and I had to be that sacrificial lamb, so to speak, so that they can correct it and no one else will lose their life, it's OK with me because I would rather go through that than to hear about another woman losing her life."
Here's her interview with Rock Center: