DENVER (CBS4) – A federal judge will allow the lawsuit of the family of a man shot to death after a controversial 911 call to include the City of Denver.

In April 2012, a 911 operator told Jimma 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 driven 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.

911 Call: “They’re back, they’re shooting!”
911 Call: “My brother’s down. My brother’s down!”

Federal Judge Michael Hegarty ruled that the City of Denver could be included in the lawsuit that also names Juan Rodriguez, the 911 operator who advised Reat to return to the scene of the crime.

“High level supervisors for Mr. Rodriguez concluded he had an inability to discern danger and our point was what more critical skill could there be for a 911 operator?” said Holland, Holland, Edwards & Grossman attorney Erica Grossman.

It was that night that Reat, a Sudanese refugee, had been driving with family and friends near 29th and Sheridan Blvd. Several men drove by and shattered Reat’s vehicle rear window by throwing beer bottles.

Reat drove away and called 911. He was in Wheat Ridge when Rodriguez advised him to return to Denver.

911 Operator: “I need you to come back to Denver so we can take a report.”

Reat returned to Denver where he was shot by his attackers.

Grossman and Anna Holland said two months earlier, Rodriguez had grossly mishandled another case.

“A caller self-reported potentially killing a man in his mother’s apartment,” said Holland.

Despite the danger in that case, Rodriguez sent the man back into the apartment.

Rodriguez’s supervisors found, “At no point did Rodriguez listen to the caller or understand a homicide had occurred.”

Rodriguez returned to work without a reprimand.

Two months later Reat was shot to death.

A jury will decide if incompetence by the city and Rodriguez lead to his death.

“Whatever opportunity he had to learn to do better, to be retrained, to handle calls safely was completely blown by the City of Denver,” said Holland.

City attorneys for Denver said the events were “exaggerated and erroneous.” That trial is set to begin in June.



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