The family of a mother of two killed in a domestic violence murder-suicide plans to sue the town of West Haven and the police officers and dispatchers who were involved in the case.
Shengyl Rasim, 25, was killed on Jan. 17, by Salemi Ozdemir, her 41-year-old boyfriend of seven years.
Lawyers for the family filed a notice of intent on Monday, the same day that a report came down from the office of the state’s attorney on its own investigation.
“Despite several attempts to seek protection from police, Rasim was ultimately gunned down in her own home by her boyfriend and the father of her children .. while her children were present, before he turned the gun on himself in a tragic murder-suicide that took place on,” the lawyers said in a news release
Rasim and Ozdemir’s 6-year-old son made the first call to the police on Jan. 16 at 5:26 p.m.
“Daddy hit Mommy,” he said.
When police arrived, Rasim said Ozdemir hit her left arm and spat on her as she breastfed. He denied it but was arrested and charged with third-degree assault, disorderly conduct, violation of a protective order and risk of injury to a minor. Bond was set at $25,000.
Less than two hours later, Ozdemir posted bond and was released.
According to the report by State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor, it does not appear that Ozdemir paid the bond, not did not sign a contract or payment plan. The state Insurance Department is investigating.
It was from there that a drunken Ozdemir headed back to the couple’s Blohm Street home, according to reports.
At 3:29 am, Rasim called West Haven 911 and tried to tell them her husband was banging on the door. Rasim, a native of Turkey, does not speak fluent English and police never obtained translation services, according to the report.
At 3:36 a.m., police went to the house without an interpreter. Rasim was there but her husband was not found.
The family claims that rather than utilize the available translation services, dispatchers dismissed Rasim’s complaints.
Seven minutes later, a woman called 911 and said Ozdemir was drunk and heading back to the family home and she was concerned for Rasim. The 911 dispatcher said police were at the house and did not get more information about Ozdemir’s location or tell the officers who were responding about the call.
The law firm for Rasim’s family claims the dispatcher seemed to be perturbed by the frequent calls and Rasim’s foreign dialect and “notified no one of this final call for help, recklessly ignoring a murder in progress.”
With no warning about Ozdemir coming to the house, police left four minutes after that call: at 3:47 a.m.
At 3:53 a.m., there was another call from the Blohm Street house. The recording includes a baby crying and sounds of an argument, then what sounds like gunshots.
“Dispatchers mention [on the tape] that the sounds may have been gunshots but do not inform responding officers of this development. Officers are merely ordered to return to the home on another domestic dispute call,” Lawlor's reports says.
Just after 4 a.m., police found Rasim with four gunshot wounds and her baby, unharmed, beside her on the floor. Ozdemir was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. A Glock 9mm was recovered from the scene.
“There are so many egregious errors on the part of the West Haven police department in this case, where do you even start?” said Attorney Joel T. Faxon of Stratton Faxon Law Firm in New Haven. “Ozdemir violated a protective order not once, but two or three times, in the span of 12 hours before killing his wife and no one bothered to take him into custody. … The dispatchers appear to have a very cavalier and dismissive attitude toward this young Turkish woman who didn’t speak English well and obviously ignored direct warnings of her impending execution.”
The law firm, Stratton Faxon, has filed FOIA requests with the Town requesting the identity of the dispatchers and said the town has refused to provide the identity of the individuals.
“As recently as this afternoon we requested the identity of the dispatchers involved in this incident directly from the Chief of the Department but they have refused to provide this information.” Faxon said. “Once the identity of these individuals is discovered a federal civil rights complaint will be filed and we will be asking the United States Attorney to investigate the department’s handling of this incident to uncover any evidence of racial bias.”