Crime

Jimma Reat's family sues Denver over botched 911 call that led to his death

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Nonetheless, the suit alleges, Rodriguez told them they needed to drive back to Denver.

Ran Pal questioned these instructions, but according to the suit, Rodriguez said that if they didn't return to Denver proper, they "would not be allowed to make a report of the criminal violence that had been visited upon them and would not receive emergency protective or medical services."

In the end, Ran Pal and his companions acquiesced. But the complaint maintains that Rodriguez didn't immediately send police to the location within Denver limits (the delay is estimated at seven minutes), nor did he create an incident report. Moreover, the suit says, he told the victims that once they had moved their car to a suitable spot, they should make themselves prominent to officers by turning on their hazard lights and leaving them flashing.

Rodriguez was still on the phone with Ran Pal when the car came to a stop in the vicinity of West 29th and Sheridan -- at which point the Jeep Cherokee rematerialized and its occupants opened fire. Jimma Reat died at the scene in Ran Pal's arms, having been shot in the back.

As pointed out in the narrative, Rodriguez was fired from his position as Emergency Communications Operator in mid-May, with Carl Simpson, representing the city, confirming that he'd put Reat and the others in danger by his actions. He wrote that Rodriguez "showed a blatant disregard for the caller's health in [his[ question to have the caller return to Denver city limits...."

Nonetheless, the lawsuit posits a racial component to the incident, arguing that because Rodriguez knew the victims were black people from the description of what happened and Ran Pal's pronounced African accent, he made a "race-based discriminatory decision to selectively deny immediate police protective services...because of their known status as disfavored minorities." Instead, the complaint says, he "stereotypically profiled and treated them as if they were themselves engaged in gang activity and not equally worthy and in need of immediate criminal protection by law enforcement."

Continue to read more about the tragic death of Jimma Reat and to see additional photos and the lawsuit.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts