Listen to audio, baby crying while mom is shot and killed caught on 911 tape
911 tape released in West Haven murder-suicide; Probe finds ‘troubling’ aspects in arrest, monitoring in domestic violence case (multimedia)
Published: Tuesday, May 25, 2010
By James Tinley, Register Staff
A report into a Jan. 17 murder-suicide in West Haven released Monday by the Ansonia-Milford State’s Attorney’s Office details key break downs in the way the domestic violence case was handled and calls for reforms at virtually every level in the response to such cases.
The five-month investigation “uncovered several troubling revelations” in aspects of the arrest, prosecution and monitoring of the original domestic violence case of Selami Ozdemir, 42, said Kevin D. Lawlor, state’s attorney for the Ansonia-Milford Judicial District.
Ozdemir, who had a history or domestic violence, was able to post $25,000 bail after assaulting the mother of his children on April 16 without paying a dime of his pocket to a bail bondsman. Once released from jail he was able to violate a protective order for the second time in 12 hours to kill Shengyl Rasim, 25, in front of their two children. He then turned the borrowed gun on himself.
A review of the 911 tapes shows operators “did not communicate vital facts to patrol officers,” on April 17 including a warning from a concerned citizen that Ozdemir was drunk, dangerous and heading for the house. Officers, who were back at the house, were never told of the call from the concerned citizen that came in when they were still at the house on Blohm Street.
Minutes later another 911 call would come in from the Rasim’s house. Arguing, and five loud popping sounds, followed by a baby crying can be heard on the chilling audio from the 911 call.
Operators did not tell the officers, who were sent back to the house, of the possible gun shots.
When they arrived they found Rasim suffering from four gun shot wounds and Ozdemir with a single self-inflicted gun shot wound to his chest.
An attorney for the Rasim’s estate Monday filed his intent to sue the city and dispatchers for “their extreme negligence” in failing to notify the officers of the citizen’s warning.
“There are so many egregious errors on the part of the West Haven Police Department in this case, where do you even start?” said Attorney Joel T. Faxon of Stratton Faxon Law Firm in New Haven. “Ozdemir violated a protective order not once, but two or three times, in the span of 12 hours before killing his wife and no one bothered to take him into custody. I believe racially motivated misconduct clearly plays a role in this case. The dispatchers appear to have a very cavalier and dismissive attitude toward this young Turkish woman who didn’t speak English well and obviously ignored direct warnings of her impending execution.”
The report says the 911 operators have access to translation services, but never requested them.
Calls to the West Haven Fire Department, which oversees civilian dispatchers with the police department were not returned Monday. A West Haven police spokesman declined to comment. Both departments have launched internal investigations.
A gap in the treatment and evaluation of people accused of domestic violence also was exposed in the report.
Ozdemir, who was first arrested for beating his wife in September 2009, was accepted into a family violence education program, but did not attend any classes because there was a three-month wait.
“My primary concern is to determine exactly what happened in this situation and, to the extent possible, attempt to assure that a tragedy such as this does not happen again. It is not to assign blame to any agency or group,” Lawlor said.
Lawlor also called on the state legislature to end the practice of people accused of crimes effectively receiving “get out of jail free cards.”
Ozdemir was arrested for assaulting Rasim on Jan. 16 and was freed that night by a bail bondsman, without any payment to the bondsman. How he was able to do that is still under investigation, but no state law prevents it from happening again. A law to reform the bail bonds industry, which is one of Lawlor’s recommendations, died in the Senate without a vote this year after gaining unanimous approval in the House.
The procedural changes the report calls include: Increasing the number of slots in the Family Violence Education Program; requiring more formal monitoring, supervision and reporting by those accused of domestic violence while their cases are pending in court; formalizing statewide procedures for notifying the state Department of Children and Families of potential instances of child endangerment involving domestic violence; reforming the bail bond industry to prevent a bondsman from issuing what is in effect a “get out of jail free card” to someone accused of domestic violence; and increasing inter-agency and intra-agency communication in domestic violence cases.West,Haven,Baby,Father,Mother,Death,Listen,news,Probe,violence,multimedia,James,Tinley,Register,Staff,Ansonia,Milford,State,Attorney,Office,response,cases,Caution,investigation,prosecution,Selami,Ozdemir,Kevin,Lawlor,Judicial,District,history,bail,children,April,Once,Shengyl,Rasim,citizen,Blohm,Street,Minutes,self,chest,estate,negligence,Police,Department,Joel,Faxon,Stratton,Firm,times,wife,custody,misconduct,plays,role,attitude,Turkish,woman,English,execution,translation,services,Fire,civilian,spokesman,Both,treatment,evaluation,September,education,classes,situation,extent,tragedy,agency,legislature,payment,industry,Senate,approval,House,Program,supervision,procedures,card,communication,Report,mode,articles,aspects,revelations,operators,officers,errors,departments,investigations,crimes,recommendations,instances,suicide,five,month,bondsman,hours,dispatchers,three