Appropriateness of 911 call response in question

Two sides of the story

RC Sheriff's Office
RC Sheriff’s Office

RUTHERFORD COUNTY – A call for help at a local residence has the community talking about the appropriateness of an officer calling the suspect while a deputy was en route.

Domestic violence calls are among the many dangerous calls law enforcement encounters. However, in this case both the suspect who was a former law enforcement officer and victim were known to the Sheriff’s department community. The suspect received a call, according to the victim’s account, from a sheriff’s detective while a patrol was on route.

Sheriff Chris Francis voluntarily authorized the release of a narrative of events through his public records specialty attorney. Since this information was not necessarily covered through the public records statutes, the sheriff responded to our request for reason of transparency.

“That process,” according to attorney Kevin Smith, “necessarily constituted an ‘internal affairs’ investigation, triggering personnel privacy protections by operation of G.S. 153A-98, which the Sheriff is under no circumstances permitted to disregard. Therefore, order to proceed with the descriptive chronology you are seeking, I am identifying five officers by the pseudonyms A, B, C, D, and E, mindful of G.S. 153A-98. The complainant is again identified by the pseudonym ‘Mary.'”

Sheriff’s narrative of events

A and B were together when A received a phone call directly from Mary. 

Mary reported that Eric Bridges was at her residence and that a verbal argument was occurring.  At A’s request, B called 911 to have a patrol deputy dispatched to Mary’s residence.  A remained on the phone with Mary.

911 Communications dispatched C to the call by radio.  D heard the call being dispatched over the police radio and recognized the name of Eric Bridges. Bridges had been an acquaintance of D and had his contact information stored in his phone. D called Bridges at the scene of the domestic argument (Mary’s home, where she was seeking immediate law enforcement intervention) and advised him to leave. D thereafter called C who was still en route to the call and advised him that he had made contact with the subject Eric Bridges and advised him to leave.

E was on an unrelated call. When E cleared that call, and being closer to Mary’s than C, he proceeded to the location and arrived before C. There was no communication between D and E.

There was no “ex parte” (Domestic Violence Protective Order) in effect on this date. An earlier DVPO against Bridges, brought by Plaintiff Mary and issued ex parte, was issued 4-15-15 and served on defendant Bridges on 4-16-15. This DVPO was dismissed by the district court on 4-23-15 for failure to appear by the plaintiff on the scheduled trial date. A subsequent DVPO was issued (ex parte) on 4-29-15 and served on Bridges.

The events described in the above narrative occurred on 4-28-15.

D stated that he is a long-time acquaintance of Bridges. D has contacted Bridges in the past to have him available for service of DVPO’s entered against him.

At the time C was dispatched to Mary’s residence on 4-18-15, there was no probable cause of a crime for which any party was subject to arrest, only a report of an argument (verbal). Mary was seeking immediate law enforcement intervention to come to her aid vis-à-vis Bridge’s unwanted presence at her residence. 

D’s phone call “arrived” and was more immediately effective for Mary’s needs than the later arrival of patrol cars.  Had any crime been committed by Bridges, Bridges would naturally have been subject to arrest at any point after his departure (in other words, “leaving” was not a defense to arrest and prosecution for any crime committed while at Mary’s residence). Nevertheless, no probable cause for Bridges’ arrest was discovered by investigating officers E and C who later arrived on the scene. As stated above, Bridges was served with a new DVPO the following day.

dv nc homicides

Below is the original call made for assistance with the victim’s name blanked out. These calls contain a narrative reading from CAD (“computer assisted dispatch”). “Mary” is a pseudonym for the complainant:

“[4/28/2015  15:18:12] [Mary] has trespassed Eric Bridges from the property. I advised [Mary] of the Ex Parte process and she said that she had one in place on Eric but it got dismissed. Eric does have a CWP and carries a Ruger .38 in the small of his back. Eric said that he will not come back to her property or call her. [4/28/2015 14:36:10] 104 had an open line until same went dead she stated she could hear them arguing [4/28/2015  14:35:30] [complainant’s address and cross street transmitted] [Mary] and Eric Bridges they are arguing at this time.

VICTIM NARRATIVE from the domestic violence protective order

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dv call copy

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The victim did explain that she had arrived for her previous DVPO hearing 10 minutes late, but the case had already been called and dismissed.

She took a new DVPO out last week and received a 0ne year DVPO.

These two very different perspectives of the same emergency response event can lead to very different conclusions as to the truth of the matter.

Despite the background of the major players involved, previous DVPO’s, personnel records, and law enforcement associations, there is no information provided for a State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) request.