ALBERTA

Brenda Moreside Death Inquiry Hears 911 Operator Was Dismissive

11/18/2013 04:00 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
EDMONTON - An inquest has heard how a 911 operator was argumentative and failed to follow proper procedures on a call with a northern Alberta woman who was moments later stabbed to death by her boyfriend.

Brenda Moreside made the emergency call in February 2005, asking police to remove her boyfriend, Stanley Willier, from her home in High Prairie, north of Edmonton. She told the operator the man didn't have a key and had broken in through a window.

"But if he lives there, he can do whatever he wants, madam," replied the operator, Yen Tran.

"Usually he's allowed to live there, right? Are you just pissed off because he broke the window or what, Brenda?"

Moreside, 44, told the operator that she didn't want to have to pay for the damage and wanted the man gone. Tran asked if Moreside wanted the man charged and she said no because she didn't want him to lose his job.

The operator then put Moreside on hold while she relayed parts of the conversation to a local officer.

She returned to Moreside and told the woman police were going to call her back.

"Well, make it quick ... (he's) trying to push through the door," Moreside responded.

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The call soon ended.

An officer did phone Moreside back, but did not go to her home. He has yet to testify at the fatality inquiry, which began Monday.

Twelve days later, acting on a tip, police found the woman in her bloody pyjamas, lying near the door of the home. She had been stabbed seven times.

Shelly Forbes, a supervisor at the RCMP's call centre in Edmonton, testified Monday that the operator who took Moreside's call not only argued at times with the woman, but was also condescending and curt.

Tran "put a judgement" on the call and sounded "lackadaisical" when she summarized it for the officer, said Forbes.

She said that Tran was unprofessional. She should have asked Moreside other questions and should have done a database check of Willier, which would have revealed a previous assault complaint.

Most importantly, when Moresaid reported Willier was pushing through the door, the operator should have called the officer back to tell him there seemed to be urgency to the situation.

Tran admitted in an affidavit that her tone was dismissive and she used unprofessional language during the call. She said she treated it like a vandalism complaint instead of a domestic violence issue and she wouldn't make the same mistake today.

"I am a different person and a different operator," Tran wrote in the document.

Tran was to be a witness at the week-long hearing, but court heard she is eight months pregnant and the stress of testifying might cause her to go into premature labour.

This is the first time details of the call have been made public. An internal RCMP memo about it was leaked to the media months after Moreside was killed.

Moreside and Willier had a tumultuous relationship, but had recently become engaged to be married, Sgt. Dave Brink told the inquiry. Moreside was upgrading her high school education and Willier often travelled to work on oil rigs further north.

On the night of Feb. 12, they went out partying.

Moreside was turned away at the local Cozy Corner Pub. She'd been banned because of past behaviour at the bar, Brink said.

Willier stayed at the pub until early the next morning. He left a voice mail for Moreside before heading back to their house. "Hi, wife. I'm coming home," said the message, which was played at the inquiry.

Brink said the man had no key and climbed through a window in the house that was already broken and covered in plastic.

Willier told court at his trial that he passed out on a couch and Moreside came at him with a knife. They struggled and he stabbed her, he said.

Toxicology tests showed Moreside had been drinking heavily before she died. She had also been using cocaine and prescription drugs.

Willier was originally charged with second-degree murder. He later pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 13 1/2 years in prison.