Operator protests firing in botched 911 call



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Posted on September 20, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 20 at 5:26 PM

DALLAS – One of the two operators discliplined after Deanna Cook died while on the phone with Dallas 911 protested her firing Thursday.

One operator didn't send help quickly enough despite Cook's pleas for help. She was murdered. The attack was recorded on the call.

Two days later, another operator made matters worse when she wouldn't send police when the family called for help. 

That operator, Angela Herod-Graham, held a news conference Thursday.

“It has affected everything in my life," she tearfully said, arguing that she shouldn't have been fired. "Eighteen years being devoted to the city for something just to be taken away from us. It's drastic."

But on August 19, Herod-Graham's supervisors say she made a series of critical mistakes when she took a call from Deanna Cook's mother who wanted police to come to her daughter's home to check on her. 

According to documents obtained by News 8, Herod-Grahams' supervisor says during the 9-1-1 call, "She did not appear engaged with the caller and did not seem to detect the urgency."

But Herod-Graham says she was just following her training by suggesting the family first check with the jails and hospitals to look for Cook. Records show the operator kept the family on the phone for six minutes explaining why she wasn’t going to send police to the scene. 

"I was there to do what I was trained to do," Herod-Graham said.

News 8 obtained Herord-Graham's statement to internal affairs. She told investigators the victim’s mother told her during the call, "There is a lot of water coming from the location. Next thing I notice the door is kicked in. She stated the house is trashed. I then heard yelling and the phone disconnected."

Cook's family knocked down the door. Her mother found her body in the bathtub. The operator didn't send police until the family told her in a second 911 call that they had found Cook's body.

The operator's supervisor Kimberly Cole told internal affairs, "It is not our policy to refuse police when someone requests the police."

The operator is appealing the firing and hoping to get her job back. 

DPD says this wasn't her first time to make mistakes. She was also disciplined for not sending police when an officer was being assaulted and for disconnecting a woman needing help because a man with a gun was outside her home.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com