Officer Jillian Smith, age 24, responded alone to take a report from 29-year-old Kimberly Deshay Carter, who lived with her daughter at an apartment complex. Arlington Police Chief Theron Bowman referred to the taking of this report as a "low-priority" call, one that they would expect only one officer to handle.
Who is making the decision on the priority of the calls?
As a retired 21-year veteran police officer who handled domestic violence calls while working in the patrol division, I cannot imagine sending only one officer to a domestic incident call. Last I checked, no one has a crystal ball that can predict the volatility of a domestic incident. The department's priorities should be adjusted; this shouldn't have been categorized simply as "taking a report," but remained as a high-priority call of a domestic assault.
Especially when the suspect is a registered sex offender with a criminal record.
Especially when the suspect, 38-year-old Barnes Samuel Nettles (photo) threatened Kimberly's step-mother, Leah Richardson, and Kimberly's sister, in September -- that he'd kill the entire family, according to Leah's story in The Dallas Morning News.
According to Carter's father, Willie Richardson, his daughter called him shortly after the assault, and that she was afraid to leave, as she thought he was still outside. He advised her to wait for the police, and he was on his way. By the time Richardson arrived, three people were dead in the apartment.
It's very sad that the question, "Is he still there?" turned this high-priority call into the "low-priority" response. The nature of the call should determine the response. If the department has the crystal ball on whether a violent man is lying in wait, I wish they'd lend it out.
As Gerald W. Garner, a police veteran and author of several books concerning police safety, pointed out in his 2005 article, "Fatal Errors: Surviving Domestic Violence Calls," on www.policemag.com:
"A domestic violence assignment is never to be handled solo."
Read Garner's sage advice here ~ which should become required reading for the Arlington Police Department:
The scene of a domestic violence crime contains great potential for continuing or additional violence. A new attack could be instigated from virtually any quarter. As you already know, people besides the initial offender could launch it. Or the attacker could re-escalate into more violence even after the police are on-scene. If he sees he’s headed for jail, he may attack to avoid custody. Violence could even erupt on a scene where the attacker has fled before you arrived. The batterer may return unexpectedly to finish the job or attack the meddling cop who dared interfere in his private affairs and mess with his marital “property.”
Information on Officer Smith's wake and funeral can be found here, as well as details concerning donations for her family.
Kimberly Carter's family spoke with NBC-DFW. Information about her funeral arrangements and how to donate for the cost of the funeral can be found at the end of this article.
I hope these women did not die in vain; may the Arlington Police Department review their policies concerning the prioritization of domestic incidents and make some wise decisions.
May Kimberly Deshay Carter and hero Officer Jillian Smith rest in peace. My thoughts and prayers go out to their grieving families, friends, and colleagues.