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Audit: Response in Denver 911 "death call" faster than usual

Kristine Kirk Facebook via CBS Denver

DENVER - An audit says the Denver police response time was slightly faster than normal in the case of Kristine Kirk, a woman who was shot and killed 12 minutes into her 911 call.

City Auditor Dennis Gallagher said Thursday the response time to the April 14 call was about a minute less than the average for similar domestic disturbance calls last year.

The Denver Post reported that the city's analysis found "the response time of 13 minutes for the...[Kirk] incident was less than the citywide average of 14.3 minutes for similar calls in 2013."

The finding was part of an investigation that showed police response times have slowed since 2008 because of manpower shortages and departmental changes.

Police have said that Kirk, 44, pleaded in the April 14 call for authorities to hurry and send officers because her husband had asked her to get a gun and shoot him. She said Richard Kirk, 47, was hallucinating and talking about the end of the world after having marijuana-infused candy and possibly pain pills, according to police reports.

richard-kirk-2.jpg
Richard Kirk
Denver Police Dept. via CBS Denver
As the call continued, Kristine Kirk frantically told a 911 dispatcher that her husband was getting a gun from a safe. Within a few seconds, the call-taker could hear her screaming. There was a single gunshot before the line went quiet.

Police have said the dispatcher did not relay critical details of the call to responding officers, who were unaware of them before they arrived. The 911 dispatcher entered notes about them into a computer, but the dispatcher, who passes information along to officers, never aired the details over the radio. She gave them initial information about the call, but she failed to update them for 13 minutes about the rising threat of violence, police said.

The dispatcher resigned last month.

A summary of the internal investigation says a Denver officer was less than a mile from the Kirks' home, but he did not head there for eight minutes. Police have said he would have left sooner had he known the gravity of the situation. The incident prompted changes in departmental policy.

Richard Kirk has been charged with first-degree murder. He has not yet entered a plea.

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