We opened our early April post about the murder of Jimma Reat with the following question: "Did a Denver 911 operator accidentally contribute to the slaying of twenty-something Jimma Reat?"
The answer hasn't been determined in a court of law, but here's one key piece of evidence: The dispatcher in question has been fired.
Reat's family and loved ones have experienced no shortage of tragedies in the last few months, At around 3 a.m. the day after Christmas, as we've reported, Youn Malual, a Sudanese immigrant and father of five who Reat considered an uncle, was murdered by an unknown assailant near his apartment building at Mississippi and South Xenia in Arapahoe County.
In our January post linked above, Bruce Williamson, a bureau chief with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, told us that the lack of progress in the case was frustrating. "We really want to get this one going," he said. "From everything we know, he was an upstanding, hardworking man just trying to care for his family. And to be gunned down the way he was...."
The frustration continues: There have been no arrests in Youn Malual's murder to date -- and the same is true of Reat's tragic slaying.
At 4:15 a.m. on April 1, according to the Denver Police Department, a 911 call told of an altercation between two vehicles near 10th and Sheridan: 9News reported that the incident involved "bottles and other debris" that were thrown at the car containing Reat and two companions. A window was broken in the process.
Afterward, the suspects continued north on Sheridan, while Reat and company reported the crime. At that point, a DPD release noted, "the victims were advised to return to Denver to report this crime," and they did so, heading to the vicinity of 29th and Sheridan to wait for cops to turn up. Instead, the suspect's vehicle materialized and shots were fired. One struck Reat, who was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after 5 a.m.
Did the 911 operator inadvertently escalate shattered glass into a homicide? The distance between the 10th and Sheridan address and the fatal drive-by at 29th and Sheridan is considerable -- about two miles. But reports that Reat and company were waiting for police when he was killed raise a whole slew of troubling issues, as Ernest Franssen, Denver 911's operations manager, acknowledged to 9News. "The outcome of the call, absolutely, it's a very sad situation. And we're apologetic for what it appears that may have happened," he said.
Meanwhile, Reat's brother, Gatwec Dengpahot, reached harsh conclusions. "I am furious with the dispatcher," he told the station in April. "I'm so, so, so furious. I believe the system has failed us."
Yesterday's firing of the unidentified dispatcher, as confirmed by the Manager of Safety's office, won't bring Reat back. But his family and authorities alike are no doubt hoping renewed publicity about the case will shake loose information about his killer or killers. In the wake of his death, police announced that as many as four people, perhaps traveling a red Jeep, may have been involved -- but at this writing, no one has been charged in this senseless crime, much less paid for it.
Look before to see two reports from 9News -- the first about the firing of the operator, the second one broadcast in the immediate aftermath of the homicide.
Follow and like the Michael Roberts/Westword Facebook page.
More from our Mile High Murder archive: "De'Quan Walker-Smith ID'd as 29th and Franklin homicide victim: Gang-related? (43)"
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.