DENVER (CBS4) – A federal judge will allow the lawsuit of the family of a man shot to death after a controversial 911 call last year to proceed in federal court.
U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn described the case as “shocking to the conscience” in a Tuesday ruling. A federal magistrate judge had earlier recommended dismissing the civil rights claims by the family of Jimma Reat, but with Blackburn’s ruling the case is headed for a federal trial.
A 911 operator told Reat to return to the scene of a crime that he was a victim of, despite the fact that Reat and the people he was with had moved outside of the city limits at the time of the call and into Wheat Ridge. Reat was shot to death after the group followed the operator’s instructions.
Denver attorney John Holland is representing the Reat family and told CBS4 “the 911 system and operator caused the death of Jimma Reat by directing him from safety to danger.”
“Government employees took a life,” Holland said.
The civil suit was filed against the city of Denver and former 911 operator Juan Rodriguez.
Rodriguez’s attorney Tom Rice told CBS4 in a prepared statement the federal judge’s decision is based entirely on the plaintiff’s version of events … which we believe to be exaggerated and in many respects erroneous.”
Holland says the facts of the case speak for themselves.
“If he had just hung up the phone on the plaintiff callers, (Reat) would be alive,” he said.