Sister of brothers killed in 2016 standoff files suit against Douglas County, 9-1-1 center

Posted at 9:46 PM, Oct 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-11 22:46:15-04

An Omaha woman whose brothers were killed by her ex-boyfriend and held them hostage, is suing Douglas County and its 9-1-1 center, according to documents obtained by 3 News Now. 

Douglas County Clerk/Comptroller Daniel A. Esch and county Emergency Communications Director David Sleeter are named as defendants in the claim, filed last week with the county's district court.

In the complaint, Julie Edwards alleges her brother's calls for help — calls he made after he had been shot, the document states — were handled improperly by the county's emergency dispatch center. The resulting delay allowed time for the assailant — her ex-boyfriend — to sexually assault her at gunpoint, she alleges in the documents.

A letter from Edwards' attorney states that she overheard her brother trying to talk with the 9-1-1 operator, and said the dispatcher failed to obtain basic information from him, did not deploy standard procedures to locate him, and neglected basic customer service during the call.

In the filing, she alleges the dispatch center:

  • failed to verify wireless routing information
  • failed to identify routing gaps and overlaps
  • failed to properly train personnel
  • failed to maintain adequate information system reports
  • failed to maintain the integrity of automatic location identification systems
  • failed to ensure the accuracy of GIS data
  • failed to handle the calls using basic customer service considerations
  • failed in various other manners to exercise reasonable care

On the morning of Feb. 11, 2016, Edwards and her two brothers, Jason and John, had come to the home she had been sharing with her ex-boyfriend, Kenneth Clark, to gather her belongings and move her out. That's when Clark allegedly shot both men and held Edwards hostage, releasing her around 2 p.m. the same day. 

But the standoff at the west Omaha home continued, with officers unsure whether the brothers were dead or alive. 

"Negotiations had failed, we had diligently tried throughout the day for 10, 11 hours of negotiation, and it came to an impasse. He wasn't going to come out," Chief Deputy Tom Wheeler of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said at the time.

Just after 10 p.m. that day, officers fired tear gas through the windows. Shortly afterwards, deputies heard a gunshot. An OPD robot discovered Clark's body; deputies said he shot himself. 

The bodies of John and Jason Edwards were found inside the home.