11/25/2008

A Face On Domestic Violence

I know you all are used to - and even expect - a crazy post from me, but today I'm going to touch on something a lot more serious - domestic violence. Take a look at an article I read today in The Washington Post:

Woman Had Lived in Fear Of Former BoyfriendD.C. Victim Slain After Calling Police
By Robert E. Pierre and Clarence Williams - Washington Post Staff Writers - Tuesday, November 25, 2008; B01

Tiffany Gates was so afraid for her life that she began making her own funeral arrangements.

The 33-year-old had been stalked by her former boyfriend, who relatives said abused her for at least a year. In August, he set her Southeast Washington apartment on fire. On Friday, authorities said, he stabbed her to death after she dialed family members and 911. Gates was on the phone with a federal marshal as she was being attacked.

"He is here and kicking my door in," she told him. The marshal called for backup, but by the time he and D.C. police entered the building a short time later, Gates lay dying.

The killing was the culmination of a violent relationship, as described in court documents and by family members and friends. Police arrested her former boyfriend, Roderick A. Ridley, 31, who was hiding in a vacant apartment in the building. He was charged with second-degree murder while armed.

The marshal and a D.C. corrections officer, members of a regional fugitive task force who were looking for Ridley because he had escaped from a halfway house, were outside the apartment building when the attack occurred. Family members questioned why the men did not rush in before police arrived. Two law enforcement officials familiar with the details raised a similar point but spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. Family members also said they wish Ridley had been charged with first-degree murder.

"Marshals were outside the door while they were stabbing her," said Manyka Gaither, a family friend. "It's an insult."

Dave Turner, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, said, "Our deputies are cooperating to the fullest extent possible with the ongoing investigations, but we are prohibited from discussing any details associated with the case."

Gates, a native of the District, graduated from Duke Ellington High School in 1992. She had worked at Housing Opportunities Unlimited and in her spare time styled hair for friends and family.
"She was always smiling and jovial," said Jacqueline Ellison, a longtime friend.
But her relationship with Ridley, friends said, was dark. Gaither said Ridley had frequently beaten Gates, who recently sought a clean break. She changed her telephone number, Gaither said. But that did not stop Ridley from showing up at her apartment with threats.

Gates and Ridley began dating in the summer of 2007, records show, and lived together for a while in the 3900 block of D Street SE, in the same apartment where she was killed. The relationship deteriorated, and she turned to the police and courts for help in August after a series of incidents.
Gates sought a temporary protection order after Ridley allegedly threatened her life, the records show. Gates accused Ridley of kicking and punching her and striking her head with a knife in a dispute at the apartment Aug. 12.

According to the filing, Ridley repeatedly called Gates, at one point saying that "she was going to die today and that they were going to die together." On Aug. 13, she asked police to help her retrieve her belongings. Ridley was there, and his behavior that night led to his arrest.

Ridley would not let police inside, according to charging papers filed in D.C. Superior Court. He allegedly screamed from the window that there would be "fireworks" and then set a couch on fire. As black smoke drifted out the window, police evacuated the building and called firefighters to the scene. Firefighters found a charcoal grill on the couch and a butane lighter in a nearby bedroom. Ridley also was in the bedroom, unconscious, the charging papers stated. He was briefly hospitalized and charged with arson.
A judge ordered that Ridley remain jailed pending trial. But when he pleaded guilty Oct. 9, the court permitted him to be released to a halfway house. He escaped Oct. 29.

On Aug. 13, Gates received the temporary protection order, which was good for two weeks. But with Ridley locked up at the time, she did not pursue a permanent order. Her court filing in August described a pattern of frightening conduct, including a February incident in which Ridley threatened to set her on fire in front of her 9-year-old child. The filing said Gates "fears for her life."

The night she died, Gates dialed 911 about midnight and reported that Ridley was yelling threats outside her window, but when police arrived, they could not find him. At 12:19 a.m., Gates called the marshal, identified in the affidavit as Inspector Robert Hoffmaster, who went to the scene at 1:25 a.m. and called Gates from his car two minutes later.

After the conversation ended with Gates screaming, Hoffmaster called for police backup. He told investigators that he stayed in his car until police arrived. They had trouble entering the building but eventually roused a tenant who let them in. Police found Gates on the third floor.

She was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, where she was pronounced dead at 2:20 a.m. Ridley was found hiding in a cabinet in a basement apartment. He scuffled briefly with officers, and a Taser was used to subdue him, police said.

Ridley faces a preliminary hearing Dec. 8. He also is scheduled for a preliminary hearing today for his halfway house escape. Prosecutors said he was scheduled for sentencing in the arson case in December.
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This is beyond sad. A law enforcement officer is sitting outside and does nothing? A law enforcement officer with the power to save her life did absolutely nothing. Why didn't he charge in and stop him? Was he low on donut power? I have absolutely no sympathy and no respect for this particular officer in the light of what has happened. My heart does go out to the family of Tiffany Gates, however.

While we're at it, I have the perfect solution to this:
FIRE THE DEPUTY AND CHARGE HIM WITH OBSTRUCTION.

And while we're at it, make him Ridley's bitch...I mean cellmate.

End Transmission.

3 comments:

Desi's mom said...

Tiffany was my friend for over 20 yrs. I think about her everyday and sometimes wake at night thinking how horrible of a death she suffered. I agree with you on the officers. Why would a law enforcement officer need back up when it was 2 of them any way? And she was telling them he was at the door. It sounds to me the officer may be in the wrong business cause he was too scared. He had a weapon and so did the fugitive task force guy. It's sad, but thanks for bringing attention to the issue because domestic violence laws SUCK!
A grieving friend

dc worker said...

From what I have read, the building was a lock out, both front and back. Once the Police and the Marshall were at the door there still was a waiting period until a neighbor opened the door. There was no way to enter the building. It was a terrible situation created by a terrible man who is now in Jail, hopefully for the rest of his life. Anger is exactly what we should feel, but direct it at the attacker not anyone else.

Tim said...

DC Worker, thanks for posting, but you're missing the point. Allow me to offer some constructive criticism.....

From all accounts, the Marshall SAT IN HIS CAR instead of doing everything in his power to get inside until the metro police arrived. Why didn't he get off of his behind and start ringing doorbells instead of waiting TWENTY MINUTES?

With all due respect, you shouldn't direct your attacks at me or anyone else before knowing all of the details.

Thank you, come again!