Kent Police issue statement about 52-minute 911 response time

Express condolences to woman’s family; say incident is under review

Kent Police said the department and Valley Communications Center are reviewing the 52-minute response time by officers to a 911 call June 14 when a boyfriend reportedly beat and strangled his girlfriend to death at a local hotel.

“We are deeply saddened by the senseless murder of Amber Keith on June 14, and want to express our condolences to Amber’s family,” according to the police statement released Monday, June 21.

A hotel security officer at the Ramada Inn, 22318 84th Ave. S., called 911 and said there was a “very violent” 911 situation and “we have someone getting murdered in 214!” according to second-degree murder charging papers filed against Phillip Jonathan Lopez, 36, of Auburn.

The security officer called 911 at 10:56 a.m. The officer called again at 11:26 a.m. regarding the time delay in the response and expressed imminent concern for the woman’s safety. Hotel security was unable to enter the room because of an interior lock. Officers arrived at about 11:48 a.m. Paramedics, who arrived just prior to police, attempted live-saving measures, but pronounced Keith dead at 12:07 p.m.

“We have received questions regarding police response time,” according to the police statement. “Both the Kent Police Department and Valley Communications Center (which dispatches 911 calls to officers) are reviewing the incident to determine if appropriate protocol was followed, including what information was relayed to the officers.”

Keith, 33, of Auburn, showed bruising on her face, a cut above her eye and a bruise in the center of her neck near her throat, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. Hemorrhaging was found in the inner neck. The injuries were consistent with direct pressure to the neck and throat.

The medical investigation is still ongoing and no official cause of death was released by the Medical Examiner’s Office, although it did determine Keith did not die of natural causes.

Police said it was a busy morning with officers spread to several calls.

“What we can confirm now is that at around the same time that the 911 call was placed by the security officer at Ramada Inn, police units assigned to the area were also dispatched to another emergency medical call, involving a male with a knife,” according to police. “Additionally, there were other 911 calls in queue, waiting for available officers who were actively assigned to other calls. All of these things were contributing factors in the time it took for officers to respond.”

It continues to be an ongoing investigation into the homicide, police said.

“Both Kent Police and Valley Communications endeavor to provide the appropriate response by emergency personnel to all 911 calls, but particularly so for emergency 911 calls,” according to the concluding statement in the police news release.

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