DC Councilman Promises Review of 911 Tape of Angelo Jones Shooting

DC Councilman Phil Mendelson has promised a review of a 911 call made by a witness to Angelo Jones‘ 2010 murder in Clay Terrace.

In the call, a young man who ultimately testified about Jones’ murder, spends more than five minutes speaking with a 911 operator who appears unable to dispatch assistance without a precise address; the young man is unable to give a precise address but asks for help on Clay Terrace, around 53rd and 54th streets, near H.D. Woodson High School. More than five minutes after the call is placed, the gunshots that the caller was trying to prevent ring out, leaving Jones dead.

Community leaders and some in law enforcement say that had the call been handled differently, the shooting could have been prevented.

“It’s disturbing, because in an emergency somebody calls for help and they expect help, not a five minute conversation that ends with gunshots,” Mendelson told WTOP. “You look at this particular situation and it’s just frustrating. You feel for the guy who was calling, five minutes on the phone trying to explain where he is, and he doesn’t know. But he’s got a good enough idea that you would think they could have sent emergency response.”

Mendelson chairs the Committee on the Judiciary, which oversees the city’s 911 system.

Homicide Watch DC first reported on the tape during the trial in February, and posted the audio, with response from Office of Unified Communications Director Jennifer Greene and others, on Friday.

Mendelson did not return Homicide Watch’s requests for comment on the recording during the week.

MPD Union Chief Kristopher Baumann said the 911 operator’s handling of the call was “inexcusable” and that blame lay with Mendelson.

The fact that this incident has not generated a complete overhaul in training, response, and protocols indicates that the public safety system is dysfunctional,” he said. “For the past six years, under Mr. Mendelson legislative oversight over public safety has been nonexistent and problems have been allowed to fester.”

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