The Horrific Plantation 911 Tape

The Miami Herald has the audio of Olidia Kerr Day's call to 911 while she was fleeing her homicidal ex-boyfriend. Day made it to the Plantation police station where she was gunned down in the parking lot. The call is just about as chilling as anything I've ever heard; makes your heart bleed. And it also makes you angry. Especially when you read this quote from Plantation police spokesman Phil Toman about the dispatcher's performance: "As far as I've heard, she did fine."

That's an insult to all the people of Plantation. But before I go on I want to say the obvious: Day's death isn't the dispatchers' fault (there were actually two, one from Sunrise and one from Plantation). That blame falls squarely on her ex-boyfriend, Carlos Cevallos, who shot himself after killing Day. I'm not sure anything could have been done to stop Cevallos. The dispatchers likely were faced with an impossible situation and they tried to do the right thing.

But the truth is they performed miserably and they didn't help Day at all. The first thing Day says on the tape is for them to listen to her. But the initial Sunrise dispatcher didn't listen. Instead, he repeatedly cut her off and asked for her address, which was meaningless at the time. When he finally realized she was trying to get to the Plantation police station, he called Plantation and got the second dispatcher on the line.

The two dispatchers exchange information while Day screams for them to hurry. They still aren't listening.

"Tell someone to intercept me on Fifth Street!" she screams.

That's where the police station is.

"Okay, what's the problem ma'am?" asks the Plantation dispatcher.

Back to square one. She tells him that she's being chased by someone who is going to kill her.

"How do you know him?"

"Please! He's going to kill me dead!"

"Ma'am do you know him?"

Who cares? This is clearly a life-or-death emergency and she's trying to get the background story. It's like asking someone whose car has plunged into a canal how they got in there instead of just telling them how to get out alive. I'm not an expert on what to do in Day's situation, but you would hope to get better instruction from the police. As one of Day's relatives tells the Herald, they might have told her to keep driving and stay in her car. When the dispatcher hears (if she was listening at all) that someone was chasing the woman with a gun near the police department, she should have immediately sent some officers to the lot. That would seem obvious. But none of that happened. Nothing happened at all.

"Listen, stop yelling," says the Plantation dispatcher after trying to get her location, "because I can't help you when you're yelling."

"I'm stuck now, I'm stuck now! He's going to shoot me!"

Those are Day's last words on the tape. She was in the police department parking lot at that point. And Cevallos soon shot her.

Now here we are almost two weeks later and Toman says the dispatcher did "fine"? That may be the scariest part of all of this. I'm sure this tape will be used in law enforcement instruction classes in the future -- but it looks like Plantation police aren't going to learn anything at all.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman