Dallas police uphold firing of operator who didn't send help to murder victim

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 11:07 PM

DALLAS -- The Dallas Police Department upheld the firing Thursday of the 911 operator who refused to send police to the home of a woman who was later found murdered in a hearing Thursday.

In August, Deanna Cook's mother, Vicky, called 911 to get police to visit her daughter's home. Cook had been missing for days.

Operator Angela Graham took the call and repeatedly told the woman she would have to call the Lew Sterrett Justice Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital before sending police to her home.

"I just want officers to help us get in the house," Vicky pleaded.

"Our police can't help you get into the house," Graham responded.

Cook continued to beg for help, even telling the operator there was water pouring from the home. Graham didn't budge. Eventually, the family kicked in the door. Cook's body was in her bathtub.

Police Chief David Brown fired Graham, saying she violated department policy. On Thursday, she went before a civil service board to try and get her job back.

"I didn't refuse to send police, I did what I was trained to do," she said.

Graham said she did not understand the family's urgency, answering "no," when asked if the mother called in duress.

Dallas police supervisors testified that it is against Dallas Police Department policy to make families call around before sending officers to check on someone.

"I stated that as soon as she had the relevant information - which occurred quickly in the call - she should have sent police," said DPD Lt. Ben Nabors.

Graham was also disciplined in the past for mishandling other calls.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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