"Rock Center" Takes Look at 911 Call in Deanna Cook Killing

Newsmagazine talks to victim's family, woman who took 911 call

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Cook Family Photo
    Deanna Cook's death drew national attention after her concerned family broke into her home and found her dead two days after she called 911.

    NBC 5's "Rock Center" on Friday examined the case of a Dallas woman who was found dead in her home two days after calling 911 to report that her former husband was attacking her.

    Deanna Cook's death drew national attention after her concerned family broke into her home and found her dead two days after she called 911.

    The two officers who had been dispatched to her house after her 911 call arrived 50 minutes later and left when no one answered the door.

    "Rock Center" spoke with Cook's family and with Tonyita Hopkins, the woman who took the call.

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    Cook's family told "Rock Center's" Kate Snow that her death exposes the larger problem of emergency response to domestic violence calls in Dallas -- particularly in low-income and minority neighborhoods.

    "There is no sense of urgency. There is no -- that happens a lot in our neighborhoods, actually, in our zip codes," one of Cook's sisters told Snow. "The police take their time to get there. To protect and serve? We don't get that in our neighborhoods."

    She said she wondered why her sister even tried calling 911.

    "Why did she even call the police? She knows that they take their time. She knows -- I thought she knew what I knew," she said. "Like, why didn't she call our cousins? Why didn't she call us? Why did she call police first? And that's horrible for a woman experiencing violence, that she can't call the police first."

    Dallas police have said that an internal investigation determined that Hopkins failed to enter the proper information into the call sheet, saying the sense of urgency was not conveyed to officers.

    Hopkins, who spoke to Snow in her first media interview, said she was never told what else she could have done.

    "I wanted to know, what critical information should I have entered? If I'm being punished for something, then I need to know why," she said.

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    Hopkins, who was suspended, later resigned.

    She told "Rock Center" that she did not hear Cook choking or a man repeatedly saying "I’m gonna kill you." During the call, she was trying to find an address for call. Because Cook was calling from a cellphone, all Hopkins had was a street name. In addition, Hopkins said it could be difficult to hear over all of the other operators in the room; her headset did not block out background noise.

    She said she entered "urgent" and updated the address after finding it from a previous 911 call. Twenty-six minutes later, officers headed to her house, stopping at a 7-Eleven along the way.

    Hopkins said she feels like she has been made a scapegoat but said she hopes some good comes out of the situation.

    "If the system is broken and I had to be that sacrificial lamb, so to speak, so that they can correct it and no one else will lose their life, it's OK with me because I would rather go through that than to hear about another woman losing her life," she said.

    Cook's former husband, Delvecchio Patrick, is charged with capital murder in her slaying.

    Dallas police disciplined two other people in the call center in connection with Cook's 911 call, a manager who was in a meeting at the time of Cook's call and the officer who called the meeting.

    Dallas police also fired the call-taker who took the 911 call from Cook's mother before the family broke into Cook's house and found her body. She appealed her termination, but a civil service board in February upheld her firing.

    More than a month before Cook's killing, the 911 call center in Dallas was criticized after callers reported that they were unable to reach an operator while trying to report a house fire.

    In March, Dallas police told a City Council committee that it has made big improvements to the 911 center, including hiring 45 new call-takers, improving call-taker training, equipment and procedures and completely changing the center management.