City official says police response fell short in alley death

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The Anchorage Police Department failed to follow correct procedures in its response to a man who died after he was found in a downtown alley last month, a city official said.

Municipal Manager Harry Kieling said Monday that the procedures used were either misunderstood or late in being implemented. Dispatchers have since been retrained in how to deal with such calls.

David Kagoona, 49, was believed to be alive when a security guard found him Sept. 19 behind the Egan convention center and called police. Kagoona was dead 43 minutes later when help first arrived.

Police procedures state that when someone calls about an intoxicated person on the ground and the Community Service Patrol can't respond within 15 minutes, dispatchers are supposed to assign a high priority to the call and send an officer to check on the person immediately. That did not happen in Kagoona's case.

Police dispatch logs show the security guard's first call came in at 7:01 a.m., the Anchorage Daily News reported. Dispatchers put a low priority on the call because the guard believed Kagoona was conscious and breathing, police spokesman Ron McGee said at the time. The CSP van does not run between 4 a.m. and noon.

The guard checked on Kagoona again at 7:30 and found no pulse. He called police again. Eventually his call was transferred to fire dispatchers, whose log shows the call was received at 7:41 a.m. An ambulance and fire engine were immediately sent to the scene, arriving at 7:44. Kagoona was pronounced dead at that time.

Police logs show the first officer arrived at 7:46.

''The Fire Department, when they found out about it, they reacted immediately,'' said Kieling, who found no fault with the Fire Department's response.

An autopsy determined Kagoona died of liver disease related to alcohol poisoning.

Kieling did not blame the Police Department for Kagoona's death but told it to respond quicker to similar incidents in the future.

''We don't know whether or not any action sooner would have made any difference,'' he said.

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