ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – A fired 911 dispatcher spent Monday in municipal court fighting for her job, which she was fired from in April following allegations that she never told police that rookie Officer Jillian Smith had been fatally shot responding to a domestic disturbance call.
Fired dispatcher Joanie Ware is appealing her termination, although city officials maintain the claims made in the internal investigation: That Ware never took the initial 911 call seriously and that she put other police in danger by not telling them Smith had been shot in the head.
The Arlington Police Officers Association disagrees, however, and believes the city wrongfully terminated Ware.
“This allows us for the first time to really establish the case that we have, that shows this was an unfair termination,” said association spokesman Randle Meadows.
In December, Arlington resident Kimberly Carter called in the first emergency call, saying, “I need to make a domestic violence report.”
When Smith responded, Carter’s ex-boyfriend, Samuel Barnes Nettles, arrived and opened fire, killing Smith, Carter and himself. Carter’s 11-year-old daughter witnessed the shooting and again called 911.
“She shot her first and he was trying to go for my mom, that’s when I walked out the door,” the daughter said in the emergency call.
The city alleges Ware took that call lightly, and presented evidence Monday that was concluded during the investigation that she never forwarded that information along to Smith’s colleagues, thus putting them in danger.
Ware’s defense team claims it was a breakdown in the system, and the Arlington Police Officers Association supports the former dispatcher, saying other factors contributed to her actions.
“We purport that is a falsehood,” Meadows said. “There were many things going on at the same time, lots of multi-tasking and lots of stuff that needed to be identified so we could make sure we had officers going to the right location at the right time.”
Another dispatcher resigned following the shooting. Ware’s hearing continues on Tuesday.