Former emergency director says system to find 911 callers not '100% accurate'

Former director deposed in Waffle House shooting suit
Posted at 8:15 PM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-18 21:15:26-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — New documents shed light into the lawsuit filed against the city by the mother of a Waffle House shooting victim that claims a mistake made by Metro cost Akilah DaSilva his life.

DaSilva was one of four people killed when a gunman opened fire at the Antioch restaurant on April 22 2018. Documents show he was shot in the shoulder and died from blood loss after arriving at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

In the moments after the shooting, a 911 call taker at Metro Nashville's Emergency Communications Center sent crews to a Waffle House at 816 Murfreesboro Pike instead of the actual location of the emergency, which was approximately 9 miles away at 3571 Murfreesboro Pike.

The claim, filed by DaSilva's mother Shaundelle Brooks, argues the delayed response "caused by the ECC's gross negligence and extreme recklessness, Akilah DaSilva suffered extensive and preventable blood loss, contributing to his death." The claim goes on to read: "If the ECC had not recklessly dispatched first responders to the wrong location, Mr. DaSilva would still be alive today."

In a court transcript of a deposition made public Monday, former Department of Emergency Communications Director Michele Donegan said call takers are trained to locate an emergency three ways: by asking the caller, by looking at GPS coordinates from cell phones used in the call, and with a program called CrissCross that works like an electronic phone book.

One call taker only used CrissCross, and selected the wrong Waffle House location.

According to Donegan's deposition, she acknowledged the platform is not 100% accurate, and that call takers should use "all the tools available to them to come up with a correct location."

Donegan, who has since retired, said the call taker was not disciplined and no policies were changed as a direct result of the mistake.

In October, Metro Council approved a resolution urging the Metro department of law to settle the lawsuit brought on by DaSilva's family. The non-binding resolution also calls for the ECC to adopt a policy that prevents 911 call takers from disregarding GPS coordinates.