911 dispatcher suspended following murder of mother in Denver

(Credit: Denver Police Department)

(Credit: Denver Police Department)

DENVER — As three children prepare to say goodbye to their mother, their father is now officially charged with her murder.

Richard Kirk is accused of shooting and killing his wife Kristine after police say he ate marijuana candy Monday night.

Investigators are questioning whether a dispatcher followed proper procedure when the victim called 911.

A nine-page long call dispatch report shows the situation at the home on South St. Paul Street near East Evans Avenue was escalating. But officers never got that information.

We asked an expert to look at what happened Monday night. He’s not surprised it’s being reviewed by Denver’s top cop and says it may help Chief Robert White lobby for more police officers.

A dispatcher at Denver’s 911 communications center is on administrative leave after working the call Kris Kirk made to 911 minutes before she was murdered. She was on the phone with 911 when her husband is accused of pulling the trigger.

At the dispatcher’s home Thursday, she declined to comment. After our visit she released a statement that says, “The events are tragic and it’s a difficult situation for everyone.”

Sources say the call center hired her just a few months ago and police are now reviewing whether she failed to broadcast important details to officers in the field over the police radio as Monday’s call escalated.

The call began as a routine welfare check. “332 Adam. 2112 South St. Paul Street on a report of a domestic violence in progress.  RP versus her husband who’s been smoking marijuana,” the dispatcher said over the radio.

14 minutes later, the responding officer first sees his computer screen and knows the situation is much more serious than he thought.

Officer: “332 Adam.”
Dispatcher: “332 Adam go ahead.”
Officer: “Yeah, according to the notes he grabbed the gun and she’s screaming and the line disconnected.  Can you speed up cover?”

Police Chief White declined to comment on Monday’s call, but says generally that important details should always be broadcast on the police radio. “That determines the urgency of the call. Sometimes it escalates from point “A” to point “B” and that determines the protocol on how the dispatcher handles those things and a protocol on how we handle those things.”

An expert on police procedure says there are lessons police can learn. “Perhaps that’s one of the ways that citizenry demand that there be more police officers,” says Prof. Joseph Sandoval, Metro State University.

Kris Kirk will be buried next week.


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