The Denver 911 response is coming under investigation after a woman was shot and killed by her husband at least 12 minutes after telling an emergency dispatcher that the man was hallucinating and threatening her with a gun.
Police said they have started an internal investigation to determine why officers took so long to respond to the home of 44-year-old Kristine Kirk on Monday night. By the time police arrived, Kirk had already been shot in the head and killed.
Denver has struggled with 911 response times in the past. In late 2012, police were called to the home of a 44-year-old woman after a neighbor saw the woman’s husband assaulting her, but after allegedly looking in the windows and seeing nothing the officers drove away. The resident, Loretta Rose Parea, was found dead five hours later.
Denver response times also came under criticism last week after a dog that had been struck by a car was left dying in the street for 90 minutes while police waited for animal controllers to respond. The officer on the scene with the dog even threatened to arrest a neighbor who tried to help the wounded animal.
There have been arguments over the cause of the Denver 911 response time problem. Some have blamed the response times on retirements, departures, and budget cuts that have trimmed the size of officers in the department. The police union has blamed staffing changes and a re-organization effort spearheaded by Chief Robert White.
A reviews of Kirk’s 911 call revealed that the woman screamed followed by the sound of gunfire.
The woman told a dispatcher that her husband was “talking about the end of the world” and was asking her to shoot him. The husband, 47-year-old Richard Kirk, was scaring the couple’s three young children and later in the call went to retrieve a gun he kept in a safe.
In all, the call took approximately 12 minutes until Kristine Kirk was shot. Police arrived in time to found her dead of a gunshot wound to the head.
Her husband was arrested and reportedly confessed in the back of a patrol car. He has been charged with first-degree murder.
The Denver 911 response time has now prompted a full investigation, and authorities say changes could be on the way.