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‘Where the $*#& are These Cops’: Family Sues Saginaw County Central Dispatch After Daughter, Who Was Shot, Was Reportedly Left Bleeding on Neighbor’s Porch for More Than an Hour

A Michigan county’s emergency response office is being sued by a mother who claims workers acted recklessly and with “gross negligence” when coding the call connected to her daughter’s fatal shooting. She suggests if the dispatcher would have mentioned that a victim had been shot, law enforcement and other emergency personnel would have responded faster, possibly saving the young woman’s life.

On Monday, Aug. 29, attorneys Victor J. Mastromarco and Kevin J. Kelly filed the suit on behalf of Deeangela Wallace in the Saginaw County Circuit Court against Saginaw County Central Dispatch and supervisor Logan Bissell with one count of gross negligence and liability, according to MLive.com.

Wallace believes the defendants were negligent in how they coded a 911 call regarding the deadly shooting of her daughter N’ala Wallace, making them liable for the 23-year-old’s death.  

Wallace also serves as the representative of her daughter’s estate and is seeking damages exceeding $25,000, plus costs, interests and attorney fees.

Early in the morning on Monday, July 5, 2021, N’ala was shot several times on the porch of a house in the 1800 block of Burnham Street, according to the lawsuit.

After knocking on the door of the Burnham home, a man opened fire and shot her five times. As N’ala wailed out loudly, the gunman fled the scene. She got to a neighboring house and banged on the door, hoping someone would hear her.

One woman did and called for help.

Bissell received a 911 call about the shooting at 4:26 a.m. The caller was a female resident living next to the house where N’ala was shot.

The woman told the dispatcher she heard the gunshots and reported N’ala was pounding on her door, asking for assistance.

The supervisor asked the woman three times if she was certain that N’ala had been shot, and then told her police were on their way.

This was untrue, according to the complaint. At the time, no officers were en route to the residence.

According to the lawsuit, three other women were also shot around the same time as N’ala, but because Bissell erroneously coded the call as “shots fired,” N’ala was not tended to swiftly.

The code did not prioritize the shooting and did not suggest to the other dispatchers, police or emergency responders that N’ala had been shot. Bissell failed to use the proper code to express the urgency of the call.

Allegedly, the Dispatch and Saginaw Police Department have an off-the-record understanding of victimless crimes and treat them as low priority. The complaint states Bissell knew this and by the circumstance of his actions is responsible for the delayed emergency response to N’ala.

Wallace’s lawyers said in the claim this act was a case of “sheer recklessness and gross negligence.”

Four minutes later, an SPD sergeant acknowledged the call but nothing was done.

Over an hour later at 5:50 a.m., the original caller rang 911 again. She expressed frustration, saying she’d called over 60 minutes prior and that the young woman was now lying on her porch without any assistance or attention from the police.

“I just called in an hour ago and said there were shots fired outside my house and there was a girl pounding on my door and no cops have showed up, and I just looked out my door finally, and she is laying on my porch, where the $*#& are these cops,” she said, as reported by WJRT-TV ABC 12.

Central Dispatch finally sent a call to medical providers to go to the house. By 5:52 a.m., Mobile Medical Response personnel started its way to the house.

The lawsuit says, by 5:58 a.m., the young woman was in full arrest, and medical professionals pronounced her dead at 6:05 a.m. Because only one of her five wounds was life-threatening, experts suggest she likely would have survived had she received medical attention sooner.

“Due to Defendants’ grossly negligent actions, Ms. Wallace laid on a porch, alone and bleeding, waiting for help for over an hour and twenty-five minutes,” the complaint said.

The suit adds, “Ms. Wallace’s death was avoidable and preventable had Defendants not acted in a grossly negligent manner.”

ABC 12 News reports, when talking about her daughter’s case, Wallace said, “It wasn’t addressed as it should have been, I think it was taken a little lightly, it wasn’t taken as serious as it should have been.”

“We have experts who are going to testify to that, she laid on that porch for over an hour,” said attorney Victor Mastromarco.

Co-counsel Kelly said, “When you code it as shots fired, that means by their own policies, no one is going to come help, maybe the police will when they have time to get to it when it’s a shooting, MMR is sent, police are sent, fire is sent if necessary and sure stuff was going on, that’s no excuse.”

In a related lawsuit, also filed by the same law firm, another dispatcher named James Stefanski alleged the department knew Bissell had made a mistake when he miscoded the call.

Stefanski said in his lawsuit, filed in February 2022, he arrived at work the morning of N’ala’s death around 5:25 a.m. and overheard the neighbor’s call, complaining about no police showing up at her home to help the wounded woman on her porch.

He said multiple employees commented on Bissell’s error. Later in the morning, supervisor Matthew Hooverman listened to the recordings and declared Bissell did nothing wrong. But Stefanski and others continued to talk, ask questions and show concern about the decision. This further enraged Hooverman.

A month later he brought it up to director Dan Weaver, asking about Bissell’s reprimand and threatening to expose the mistake to the Saginaw County Board of Directors. This made Weaver angry.

After speaking to two members of leadership about the mistake, Stefanski claims he started being alienated.

His lawsuit stated, “The atmosphere had become very tense and (Stefanski) became frightened (Central Dispatch) would retaliate against him.”

He claims he was later “constructively discharged” by his supervisor because he was pushing too hard for answers about Bissell’s actions on that day.

His lawsuit is on grounds of retaliation in violation of the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act.

Central Dispatch disputes Stefanski’s allegations.

A man named Ramiro Garcia, 39, has been identified and charged on single counts of open murder and felony firearm for the murder of N’ala Wallace. Open murder contains both first- and second-degree murder charges. If convicted, he faces life sentences for both offenses, though a second-degree conviction may allow for a parole possibility.

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