Denver PD Chief orders investigation of response time to 911 call during which a woman was killed

DENVER - Denver Police Chief Robert White has ordered an investigation into how police, dispatchers and call takers responded to a Monday 911 call from a woman who expressed fear of her husband before he allegedly shot and killed her.

7NEWS has determined that it took Denver police at least 16 minutes to respond to the 911 call from 44-year-old Kristine Kirk at 2112 S. St. Paul Street, near the University of Denver.

Early in the call, a newly released police document says, she told the 911 operator to "please hurry," because her husband was "totally hallucinating" and scaring their children.

Later in the call, the operator heard the fatal gunshot.

During a Thursday afternoon news conference, Chief White told reporters that the protocol is for the communications center to prioritize the most urgent 911 calls. He says each response varies based on the information given to the 911 call taker, who provides it to the dispatchers, who organize the information and send the officers.

"As it relates to this particular incident, we're going to look at all of those nuances to determine what if anything went wrong from our perspective -- obviously something went wrong because someone lost their life," he said.

He went on to explain that the protocol is designed to be flexible and to adjust to the situation.

"While there is a general set of priorities, how we respond to certain calls and how we prioritize those, all of those are subject to be mitigated based on the scenario at this particular time," he said.

Although White declined to discuss most of the specifics of this case, he did say he believes the officers, call takers and dispatchers get things right almost every time.

The search warrant affidavit, however, says that Kirk sounded panicked as she told the operator her husband was taking the gun out of the safe and that she didn't know where to go. Within seconds, the wife "can be heard screaming. The screaming stopped after hearing what [the detective] believes is the sound of a gunshot. The 911 phone line remained open, but Mrs. Kirk is never heard from again," the detective wrote.

"There will be times when we don't get it right," Chief White said. "When we don't get it right, then it becomes my responsibility if it is an issue with the police department. If it is an issue with communications, it is that director's responsibility to correct it."

White said the investigation was inspired in part by the questions raised by the media in the wake of the fatal shooting and it will examine the situation from the "point of dispatch to the point of arrival."

After police arrived and arrested Richard Kirk, the arrest affidavit says they put him in the back of a patrol car where he volunteered "that he killed his wife."

He is being held without bond on investigation of first-degree murder at the Downtown Detention Center.

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