Tuesday, May 24, 2022

911 records: New details, more questions after Wilmington police break into downtown house

The home on Wright and 5th Street where the incident occurred. An officer deployed a taser through the broken front door on the right side of the porch. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
The home on Wright and 5th Street where the incident occurred. An officer deployed a taser through the broken front door on the right side of the porch. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — The Wilmington Police Department is still reviewing the chaotic reaction to a 911 call that resulted in at least one injured officer, an arrest, and a lot of unanswered questions.

The incident was caught on film, showing two young officers attempting to break into the caller’s home and tasing an unidentified individual before making an arrest three houses south on 5th Street as numerous additional units arrive. Throughout the incident, residents appeared confused and dismayed at officers’ actions, asking repeatedly for an explanation — but not receiving one.

These residents repeatedly mentioned that they had called police regarding ‘prostitutes,’ but according to police records that does not appear to be the case. Still, it remains unclear how the incident escalated to the situation seen on video.

READ MORE: Wilmington officers break into house, deploy taser while residents repeatedly ask ‘what’s going on?’ [Video]

No comment from WPD or those involved

The incident came to light when a man named Jimmy Valimont posted a video of officers attempting to break into his residence. Valimont had claimed he and his roommates had called because of “prostitutes in the neighborhood,” but in the 911 call and dispatcher’s report, there is no mention of this. Valimont has not responded to a request for comment on the incident.

One man listed on the report, Christopher Mason, was reached by phone Tuesday evening but declined to provide clarifying details of the incident, explaining that his roommates had been advised by attorneys to avoid publicly discussing the case. 

WPD spokesperson Jessica Williams said the department was reviewing the incident but also declined to comment at this time. On Monday she said the department understands that the “public is concerned about what’s shown in the video.”

Watch the video, beginning with officers attempting to break into Jimmy Valimont’s residence and ending with Valimont’s arrest. (Courtesy Facebook)

New details: 911 and dispatch records

New details gleaned from a 911 recording and dispatcher’s call log of the incident reveal at least one officer was injured during the pursuit, one that included at least seven WPD squad units responding to a report of a man who allegedly threatened the caller with a knife. It also shows a man named Bryan Rivera-Cota was arrested for assaulting an officer and inflicting serious injury, and the man who filmed the incident was arrested and released an hour-and-a-half later on an unsecured bond. 

At 1:10 a.m. Monday morning, after roommates held a party at their home on the corner of South 5th Avenue and Wright Street, a man called 911 and informed the dispatcher of a man lurking on his property who had threatened him with a knife after he declined to give him a cigarette. 

He said the man called him a derogatory term commonly used for Mexican people, but informed the dispatcher he was Native American. 

“He was being violent,” the caller said. “I called 911, and he went away.”

He told the dispatcher that the man — perhaps 30 to 50 years old, black, with a grey goatee — had started walking along Wright Street toward 3rd Street. 

The 911 dispatcher recommends the caller go inside and lock the door, saying a unit will be dispatched as soon as possible but, in general, the situation seems not to have been serious. The caller states that man had left and both the 911 call and dispatch records indicate no one was injured or in danger. The call ended around 1:20 a.m.

Five minutes later, it seems the situation was anything but resolved.

At 1:25 a.m., WPD Unit 317 made a request for more units on the scene. Several minutes later, according to Valimont’s video, two young police officers are seen attempting to break into the caller’s residence. Over the course of the nearly 5-minute video, Valimont and another man asked the officers at least 45 different occasions what they are doing, but they received no response. 

A female officer then walked by Valimont and appears to hit his camera to the floor of the patio, at which time the sound of breaking glass can be heard, followed by the sounds of a man screaming in pain inside the home. After the camera is picked up, it shows the two officers at the front door with the male officer holding a deployed taser gun, its chord running through a broken windowpane on the door.

The taser was deployed at 1:27 a.m. by an officer from Unit 317, according to the dispatcher’s call report. Less than 30 seconds later, someone is detained by a separate officer or officers — from Unit 332 — whose location is unknown (Valimont’s video of this time only shows two officers on the front porch).

Less than a minute later, the female officer from Unit 317 pursues someone who ran along the side of the house and escaped from the front gate. At least three squad cars arrived on the scene at the corner of Wright and 5th Street, followed by officers running around the area with flashlights looking for the suspect, according to the video.

At 1:28 a.m., Unit 317 reported that one officer was injured and needed EMS after taking a hit to the back of the head. It is unclear whether this is the same female officer who had been on the front porch, shortly after the door was broken, with blood on her forearm. A BOLO (Be on Look Out) was also issued.

At 1:48 a.m., Rivera was arrested. Sometime before, Valimont was also arrested (at the end his video, he walks to a group of officers on 5th Street, several homes south of his residence, and is told to put his hands behind his back before the video cuts off). Rivera was held on a $70,000 secured bond; Valimont was released on an unsecured bond just over an hour later.

Questions remain

It is now clear that the original call was not about ‘prostitutes’ but about a potentially threatening individual who, at the end of the 911 call, had apparently left the scene.

What is far from clear is what happened between the end of the 911 call and the frantic scene less than ten minutes later. What caused officers to attempt to break into the house?

Some other questions remain: Was the 911 caller himself arrested and why was Valimont arrested while recording the incident? What happened immediately after Valimont’s camera was knocked from his hand, when the sound of broken glass can be heard on the front porch? Who was the person tased inside the home shortly after? Was that the same person who ran along the side of the home a minute later and was eventually pursued by at least seven officers? What happened before Rivera was arrested for assault of an officer inflicting serious injury? 

According to the dispatcher report, a crime scene investigation unit was requested to inspect the broken front door of Valimont’s residence and to visit the hospital.

Timeline

1:10 a.m. Man calls 911 after house party, reporting another man with a knife standing at the fence of his property.

1:20 a.m. 911 call ends with suspect reportedly leaving the scene, caller advised to head inside, lock doors, and await a police unit.

1:25 a.m. Officers call for backup.

1:27 a.m. Unit 317 deploys a taser through the broken front door of the home, located on the corner of Wright and 5th Street.

1:28 a.m. An individual is detained by Unit 332; a BOLO (Be on Look Out) is issued.

1:29 a.m. Unit 317 requests EMS at 1010 S. 5th Street for one officer injured; “officer took hit to back of the head,” according to the dispatcher’s report. It appears that around this time, Jimmy Valimont approaches the officers and is arrested (his video cuts off after he is told to put his hands behind his back).

1:31 a.m. Unit 291 reports “all suspects in custody.”

1:50 a.m. Request for crime scene unit at 420 Wright Street and at the hospital (NHRMC).


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