Crime

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

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To back up this contention, the lawsuit says Denver police initially tried to determine if Reat and his friends were gang members. Also mentioned are comments made in the press implying the harsh words that prompted the confrontation could have been gang-related.

These elements transition into a section that attempts to place Reat's death in a context of police policy requiring operators to have crime victims return to city limits in order to report incidents. Here's an excerpt:

More particularly, it is the longstanding widespread deliberately indifferent danger creating custom, habit, practice and/or policy for emergency communications operators to regularly refuse to dispatch units where the victims are safely located, and instead direct them to go back into city limits in the proximity of where the attackers were known to have just been or to still be, or even instruct the callers to remain at the scenes involving crimes against persons to meet police.

Denver has, with deliberate indifference, and actual knowledge, failed to mandate as policy or train its operators and dispatchers that in circumstances of reported assaults, they may never direct persons outside of Denver to return to Denver without providing immediate and timely police cover, and a specific protective plan to assure that there is no risk of further attack on such persons by their assailants in following 911 instructions.

This custom, habit, policy and practice has been in widespread effect since at least the 1980s, when it was reported in the media that a few young boys who were being attacked at a McDonald's in Denver, and who had gone to a safe place in Lakewood, were instructed by the Denver 911 operators to return to Denver, where officers would meet them.

In a release about the lawsuit, the Holland, Holland Edwards & Grossman attorneys write that the lawsuit "challenges a set of civil rights violations that have devastated a very loving South Sudanese refugee family, who thought they were finally living in a safe place after having escaped the ravages of war. As a child, Jimma Reat walked and was carried for months by his family from Sudan to a refugee camp in Ethiopia before coming to the United States and settling in Denver."

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