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Family, Friends of slain Clinton Police Officer furious that officers were sent to wrong home

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Judy L. Thomas, Laura Bauer, Glenn E. Rice And Max Londberg
The Kansas City Star

Those devastated by this week’s shootout in Clinton, which left one police officer dead and two injured, don’t understand why it had to happen.

Why were the officers sent to the wrong address in the wrong town?

“This is so horrific,” said Aiza Evans, a childhood friend of Officer Christopher Ryan Morton, 30, who died at the scene Tuesday night. “How can something like this happen?”

Dispatchers received a 911 call Tuesday at 9:22 p.m. and heard two women screaming in the background before the line went dead. They sent cars to 306 W. Grandriver St. in Clinton. Investigators later discovered that the call didn’t come from that home but instead from a residence in the town of Windsor, about 20 miles away.

Authorities say they still don’t know how the mix-up occurred and whether it was the result of a computer error or a human one.

“I just don’t understand it,” said Chris Kinote, a long-time friend of Morton, in a phone call Thursday morning from overseas where he is on duty for the Air Force Reserve. “I’m trying to figure out, OK, was it just a coincidence that the house they ended up going to had some criminal activity going on there, too? It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Dispatchers did not speak to the 911 caller in Windsor. Instead, they heard an open line. Whether through human error or a system glitch, officers were sent to the Grandriver Street home in Clinton.

At the home, an officer asked dispatch for clarification about the nature of the 911 call, according to audio later posted to Broadcastify.com.

“Could you hear anything on the open line?” the officer asked.

A dispatcher responded, “We can just hear two females arguing. We’re not sure what they were saying.”

A woman met officers on the Grandriver home’s porch. She said no one was inside and there was no emergency. Officers entered the home to make sure everyone was safe, authorities said.

Soon after, gunfire erupted.

Several bullets struck Morton, who was the first to enter the home. He told dispatch he was hit multiple times, in his chest, arm and both legs. The other two officers also were shot and received non-life threatening injuries.

Police later found Morton and the suspect dead inside the home. Authorities said it’s still unclear whether James E. Waters, 37, took his own life or was killed by police.

His daughter, Lakeviona Waters, 19, said in a text to The Star that she’s frustrated that police were never actually summoned to the home where her dad was. She questions why her father, who she described as a broken man, had to die.

“I feel like they should’ve have doubled back to make sure they was at the right location,” she texted. “Since they didn’t, they lost a team member and I lost my DAD!!”

She continued: “Normally the police ask for the person name when they get on the phone with them and ask again once they get to the scene but it’s very CLEAR they didn’t do this!!”

Dispatchers never spoke with the 911 caller. They informed police responding to the call that they had warrants related to the Clinton home.

And earlier Tuesday, police had been to the bungalow trying to contact Waters in relation to a rape investigation. Waters has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1999 and was facing new charges in Cass County for meth and marijuana possession.

Morton left his full-time post with the Clinton Police Department in late 2016 and became a reserve officer in January 2017. But after Officer Gary Michael was shot and killed last August, Morton told his friends he had to go back. He felt they needed him.

Six weeks after Michael’s death, Morton was back full time and filled Michael’s post.

“He wanted to be there for his brothers,” said close friend Tim Jackson.

Evans said Morton knew he made the right decision.

“If he felt like he had a call somewhere, he went,” Evans said. “It made me proud that he went back, but it made me nervous.”

Kinote said he wasn’t surprised that Morton was the first inside the home.

“I read that they heard screams supposedly during the 911 call,” he said. “And he was the kind of person who, if he was in a yard and heard someone screaming, would be the first one in there. He had no fear especially if somebody was in danger.”

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©2018 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com

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