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N4T Investigators: City faces lawsuit for response to 911 call

TUCSON – The city is facing a lawsuit after a man called 911, and first responders did not break into his apartment.

Tim Murphy had been drinking and fell through a glass coffee table last December. He called 911 saying he had been bleeding heavily for about an hour.

Firefighters arrived about 4 minutes after the call ended. His lights were off, and he did not answer his phone, according to the fire report.

His mother, Rhonda Murphy, filed a notice of claim against the city in June.

“Whether he could not get to the door, whether he had passed out from loss of blood, not sure,” Rhonda Murphy said.

Tim Murphy bled to death.

The family blames the Public Safety Communications Department, which answered the phone, and the Tucson Fire Department, which responded to the apartment.

“The person that was on the phone should have stayed on the phone,” Rhonda Murphy said, “to be sure that when the people knocked on the door, the firefighters or the paramedics or whoever they sent, that they were at the right door and could answer it.”

Chris Scileppi is the family’s attorney. He said firefighters should have broken into the apartment.

“You don’t just go and knock on the door, not receive an answer, call, don’t receive an answer and then take off, pack up and leave,” Scileppi said. “That’s problematic.”

Firefighters responded around 3 a.m. They did not want to break down the door in case they had the wrong address, according to the fire report.

“It’s probably some procedural, policy issues that need working on and training,” Scileppi said.

Because of the lawsuit, city officials did not respond to questions about their policies and training, and they did not comment on the case.

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel

Sam Salzwedel is an investigative reporter at News 4 Tucson - KVOA.
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