911 dispatcher quits over handling of call that ended in shooting death of Denver mother

Firing of employee withdrawn after resignation

DENVER - The City of Denver and a dispatcher have parted ways over the handling a domestic violence call where a woman was shot to death.

City officials said the dispatcher was accused of failing to share important details with police officers responding to a domestic violence 911 call that ended in the April shooting death of Kristine Kirk.

The dispatcher, who has not been named, was fired on Friday following a review of their handling of the call which ended in a fatal shooting, Denver Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Daelene Mix told NewsChannel5's sister station 7NEWS initially.

However, a later statement from Mix clarified the situation:

"Although Denver 911 began termination proceedings on Friday, June 6, 2014 relative to how the dispatcher handled the call in the Kirk case, the dispatcher made a request to tender her resignation that same day. After considering the request, the dismissal letter has been withdrawn and her resignation accepted.”

City officials launched disciplinary proceedings against the dispatcher on May 16. After an internal investigation, the Denver Police Department decided that officers handled the call properly, given the information they were provided by the dispatcher.

On the night of April 14, Kristine Kirk called 911 and said her husband was hallucinating after taking "some marijuana and possibly some prescription medication for back pain" and he was scaring her and the couple's three young children. She mentioned that there was a gun in the house, but it was secured in a safe.

The dispatcher did not tell the officer responding to the home that Richard Kirk's behavior was becoming increasingly erratic, that he was asking his wife to get the  handgun and shoot him.

Victim tells dispatcher: 'Please hurry'

At one point in the call, Kristine Kirk told the 911 operator to "please hurry" and send officers, documents state.

She said "her husband was talking like it was the end of the world … he had asked her to get the gun and to shoot him, and she is scared of what he might do because her three children are in the house with her," a detective who reviewed the 911 tape wrote in an arrest affidavit.

Kristine Kirk was on the phone for nearly 13 minutes before her husband allegedly shot her in the head.

Fourteen minutes into the 911 call began, the responding officer radioed the dispatcher about the 911 operator's call notes he was reading on his patrol car computer.

"According to the notes, he grabbed a gun and she screamed and the line disconnected… step up cover," the officer radioed, telling the dispatcher to speed deployment of other officers who could provide backup.

Normally, it's the dispatcher who radios information to patrol officers -- not the other way around.

"Officers were not given verbal information as they were responding to the scene," Denver Police spokesman Lt. Matt Murray said when the disciplinary proceedings began in May. "It's not possible or safe for officers to be driving to a crime and reading a screen. So, even if those updates were coming on a computer screen, it would not be appropriate for officers to get information that way. That’s one of the changes the executive director made, to require that that information be given verbally."

Dispatcher was busy that night

7NEWS found that the dispatcher was busy that night dealing with calls from other officers. She was asked to call Aurora police twice, dispatched officers to an area where fireworks and shots were reported. She also dispatched an officer to a traffic accident, and he asked her to make a call back to the reporting party to get more information. Then the officer asks for directions to the location. Another officer calls in and asks for a dinner break.

It took officers about 16 minutes to arrive at the home in the 2100 block of South St. Paul Street. By then Kristine Kirk had already been shot and was soon pronounced dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

Document: Husband had eaten marijuana-infused candy

On the 911 recording, 47-year-old Richard Kirk can be heard in the background talking about consuming marijuana-infused "candy," court documents say.

Denver Police believe Richard Kirk ate "Karma Kandy Orange Ginger," a marijuana-infused candy, which he purchased just hours before the killing, court records state. While searching the home, a detective found a receipt in the basement for $32.70 worth of marijuana products purchased at 6:40 p.m. that evening from Nutritional Elements, a marijuana shop, at 2777 S. Colorado Blvd.

Richard Kirk now faces one count of first-degree murder in his wife's death.

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