Rookie Officer’s Death Prompts Arlington Policy Change

Arlington Police Department

Four months after a rookie police officer was killed responding to a domestic disturbance call, the Arlington Police Department said it is changing how officers respond to such calls.

Officer Jillian Smith was killed Dec. 28 while taking a domestic assault report from Kimberly Carter. Carter's former boyfriend returned to her apartment and killed Smith, Carter and himself.

"At the time when Officer Smith responded, the standard protocol was to have one officer respond if the suspect had already departed," Arlington Police Chief Theron Bowen said Wednesday. "Going forward, this will become a two-officer response."

Police said Barnes Nettles, a convicted sex offender, barged into Carter's apartment while Smith was taking the report, wishing to discuss the status of his and Carter's relationship.

Newly released documents describe how Nettles took a gun from his chest area and began to shoot. One bullet hit a wall, and the second bullet struck Smith in the head, killing her instantly.

He shot Carter four times.

Carter's 11-year-old daughter escaped unharmed. Authorities have said that Smith jumped in front of the girl to save her from being hit.

Police said Carter's parents arrived at their daughter's apartment complex and saw Nettles in the parking lot. Nettles began to walk back to the third-floor apartment.

They followed, opened the door and saw Smith dead but didn't enter the apartment.

"Barnes Nettles, realizing he had no more shots to fire or no more bullets in his gun, took the weapon of Officer Smith -- who was now deceased -- took her service revolver and shot himself in the head, killing him instantly," said Bryon Stewart, a detective in Arlington police's homicide division.

The department said there was nothing it or anyone could have done to prevent Smith's death. But police also said the investigation highlighted mistakes made by a 911 call-taker and dispatcher that hindered officers' response.

An internal investigation revealed that the dispatcher did not follow procedure when Smith did not respond over the radio when contacted. The dispatcher was fired.

The 911 call-taker did not relay information that an officer was down to the dispatcher in a timely manner. The call-taker later resigned.

"Once the primary dispatcher did receive information that an officer was shot, the dispatcher failed to immediately provide other officers with that information and that there was a possibility of a shooter on the scene," Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson said. "This information is critical for the safety of police officers."

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