Death After Denver 911 Call Leads to Questions and Changes

On April 14th a Denver woman called 911 and reported that her husband had been using marijuana, was suffering from hallucinations, and asking her to shoot him.  The woman was concerned about not only her husband’s safety, and hers, but also the safety of their three young children who were in the house at the time.

Denver police responded to the call 16 minutes later, but by the time they arrived on the scene her husband had already killed the woman.  Now, the 911 dispatcher who handled the call has been placed on administrative leave, and the city of Denver is reviewing its 911 protocols.

According to Denver Police Cmdr. Matt Murray, the city’s police department refers to an emergency as a Code 10.  Emergency responses allow Denver police to use emergency lights and sirens, and result from calls relating to robberies in progress, shootings, explosions, and other serious situations.

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As a result of the April 14th incident, Denver police have added suicidal party, assault or disturbances with weapons, and excited delirium to the Code 10 category.  Excited delirium is a term used by professionals to denote a person who has consumed drugs and has gone into a state in which they act in a way that is extreme and bizarre.

The 911 operator who handled this call has come under scrutiny for only having told officers that the husband had been smoking marijuana and that there was a handgun in the house, but that “it’s not in anybody’s possession.” Some believe that if the operator had given police more information, namely that the husband was potentially suicidal or violent, that police would have determined the situation was a Code 10 and responded more quickly, potentially saving the wife’s life.

The case is currently under investigation by the city’s police department and  911 Communication Center.