TUCSON – Police entered an east side apartment on May 6, 2018, and found a young woman dead on the kitchen floor. Eighteen-year-old Rosaura Hernandez lived there with her boyfriend, Joshua Hilaire, but broke up with him the night before. Rosaura had returned that morning to get her belongings.
The News 4 Tucson Investigators have obtained the police body camera video. It shows an officer entering the apartment, gun drawn. She yells, “Tucson Police. Anybody else in here? Tucson Police. Anybody else in here?”
No one answers.
A neighbor is heard telling responding officers that his wife saw Rosaura try to leave the apartment hours earlier, but Hilaire grabbed her.
In the police video, the neighbor says, “I was sleeping earlier and I guess my wife heard, uh, saw a guy pulling her by her hair.”
Sources tell the News 4 Tucson Investigators the neighbor who saw Rosaura getting dragged back inside said nothing and did not call 911.
Rosaura arrived at the apartment at 10 a.m. and her family was frantic because she hadn’t returned their calls or texts for hours, which was not like her. Records obtained from TPD shows the family first called 911 at 1:37 p.m. but police didn’t arrive until almost four hours later.
Police didn’t break down the door because the 911 operator assigned the case as a level 4, meaning violence was not expected. Police said there wasn’t enough evidence to enter without a warrant. The lease was in Hilaire’s name. Also, the apartment complex leasing office was closed, so they couldn’t get a key.
Finally, at 7 p.m. Rosaura’s family broke into the apartment and found her dead. They again called 911.
A frantic family member is heard yelling on the 911 call, “They killed her, they killed her. We need 911 here.”
Rosaura had been stabbed and strangled. The 23-year-old Hilaire has been charged with her murder.
April Barbosa, Rosaura’s mother, said, “Of course there’s anger but anger’s what killed my daughter so I’m not going to hold on to that. I just ask that people, if you see something say something.”
The News 4 Tucson Investigators reported last year that the family planned a lawsuit against TPD and the city. However, the suit has been dropped. The family’s attorney, Joel Robbins, learned that Rosaura was most likely killed soon after arriving at the apartment, more than three hours before the family first called 911.
Robbins said, “In any kind of lawsuit someone has to do something wrong, it has to cause something, there has to be damages.”
Robbins said there’s no evidence that police did something wrong, but he still believes they should have made the 911 call a higher priority because the family told the dispatcher the couple argued the night before. But Robbins says there’s no proof a faster police response would have saved Rosaura’s life.
But that witness is another story.
We asked Robbins, “Do you think if the witness to Rosaura getting pulled by the hair back into the apartment had called 911 or intervened in any other way, that maybe she would not have been murdered?” Robbins said, “I think that things would have been different. I think that what would happen is it goes up higher on the list.”
April said, “Blaming the cops, you know I may have said a few things like if they would have been there or whatever but I’m woman enough to say I was in the wrong.”
April has started a non-profit organization called, “Justice for Rosaura” aimed at helping victims of domestic violence and convincing witnesses to not sit idly by.
“Call 911,” April said when people witness domestic violence or any other crime, they should, “Yell, say, ‘Hey, I see you.’ If he would have known that somebody was watching he could have chickened out and let her go.”
Robbins said, “Lawsuits can only bring money. But people bring solutions.”
Hilaire pleaded not guilty in Rosaura’s murder and is being held in the Pima County Jail on a $1 million bond. His trial is scheduled to begin early next year.
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