911 Was Called Repeatedly Before Woman Was Killed
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The family of a pregnant woman killed by her boyfriend while repeated calls to 911 went ignored has settled their lawsuit with the city, hopeful that a similar tragedy will be avoided thanks to changes implemented to Albuquerque police 911 protocols.
The case of Randi Regensberg, 21, murdered on the night of July 7, 2006, highlighted flaws how Albuquerque 911 operators handle domestic violence calls involving second- and third-hand reports of possible violent crimes.
The settlement between the Regensberg’s parents and the Albuquerque Police Department was reached by attorneys for Will Ferguson & Associates, and Bob Rothstein of Santa Fe, who represented the family, and attorneys for the City of Albuquerque, who represented APD.
“What this case did was that Priority 1 calls – those involving threat of bodily harm – now include calls from the public where there is second- or third-hand evidence, but not direct eyewitness evidence, that a crime is happening or is about to happen,” said Robert Ortiz of the Ferguson Law Firm.
In the settlement, the City of Albuquerque agreed to pay Regensberg’s parents, Virginia and Dale Regensberg, approximately $700,000. “The fact that the city changed its policies to prevent another woman dying like Randi went a long way towards making this settlement possible,” Ortiz said.
“The Regensbergs know now, because of this case, that their daughter’s death had an impact that led to positive changes so that other women, in Randi’s shoes, might live,” Ortiz said.
“This is the kind of case the Will Ferguson Law Firm exists for: getting justice for people, righting a wrong, and striving for positive change so that communities and their citizens are safer,” Ortiz said.
Evidence showed that on the night of Regensburg’s death, neighbors reported seeing her dragged by her hair by her boyfriend, Cory Kotrba, 28, an Albuquerque firefighter, into Kotrba’s home in the 7700 block of Javelina SW.
Neighbors also reported to 911 operators that Kotrba had barricaded his house’s back door with a table and had guns in the residence. They also reported that there had been a history of violence between the couple.
Over a period of 97 minutes, friends called 911 a total of fives times, talking to several operators, telling them they feared for the life of Regensburg, who was six months pregnant with a baby boy. Records show that by the time the fourth 911 call was placed, Regensberg had been shot to death. Kotrba fatally shot himself.
A friend of Regensberg who drove to the Javelina address during the frantic 97 minutes saw an APD car parked at a home nearby, went to that home and knocked. Testimony showed that APD Officer Hector Chavez, who answered the door, told the friend he was off-duty and that if 911 had been notified already, he had no obligation to get involved. Chavez was named as a defendant in the Regenbergs’ wrongful-death suit, along with APD Chief Ray Schultz and several 911 staff.
Repeatedly, during the frantic attempts to save Regenberg’s life, callers to 911 were told there was no officer available.
In fact, the Ferguson Law Firm discovered that there were plenty of APD officers available – but they were doing less critical work, including running radar on Central Avenue and responding to a broken window at a K Mart store, according to APD records – during the two-hour window that roughly coincided with the Regensberg murder.
Since Regensberg’s death, APD has shaken up the 911 staff, changed 911 operating procedures, revamped training and re-categorized domestic violence calls like those made by neighbors and Regenberg’s friends on the night she died.
The Will Ferguson & Associates Law Firm represents people seriously injured by the negligence of others and the families of persons who die because of the negligence of others. For more information, contact Will Ferguson & Associates, (505) 243-5566 or 1 (800) 251-5566. Will Ferguson & Associates maintains two offices in Albuquerque and an office in Amarillo, Texas, to serve families and people injured in Texas. That office is at 2901 I-40 West, Amarillo, Texas 79109. The Amarillo phone number is 806-374-4024.