Waterbury complaint clerk fired for handling of 911 call - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Waterbury complaint clerk fired for handling of 911 call

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A Chinese delivery woman was murdered in Waterbury.  (WFSB) A Chinese delivery woman was murdered in Waterbury. (WFSB)

A 911 call sparked outrage in Waterbury last month, and now the woman who was on the other line taking that call is out of a job.

After a two week investigation and internal hearing, Nicole Scarino, who was a complaint clerk, was fired. She had been working for the city for seven years.

It all stems from what happened on Aug. 23, when a robbery of two Chinese food delivery workers turned deadly.

Helena Vargas, 59 of Waterbury, died after she was shot once in the neck.

Police said Vargas and a delivery man, identified as 61-year-old Rolando Alvarez, were attacked by a group of four people including two men and two women. The man "was physically assaulted" while Vargas was shot. 

Alvarez, who had just been robbed and his co-worker just shot, called 911 and Scarino took the call.

It's clear in the call that Scarino had difficulty understanding Alvarez.

However, complaints stated that Scarino didn't handle the call in a professional manner.

"There were several internal violations that occurred, and as a result of that's why we've come up with the charge of termination,” said Waterbury Police Chief Vernon Riddick.

Even with a language barrier, Riddick said 911 operators have the option to press a button on the console that would send the caller to a translator. Scarino did not do that.

"In addition to the mishandling of this call, she's had previous histories in which her performance has not been up to standards, as a result of that including remedial training which we instituted two years ago,” Riddick said.

Jannette Rodriguez said her cousin, Helena Vargas, was helping make a delivery for the Golden Wok when she was shot and killed.

"It’s bittersweet. I never thought I was going to be happy for somebody getting fired, but I have to say I hope that she learns from this,” Rodriguez said.

Police quickly arrested four teenagers, who they said placed an order just so they could lure the two to Linden Street and rob them.

Family and friends started a petition, asking for Scarino's removal. She said as if losing a loved one wasn't enough, they then had to hear the frantic 9-1-1 call.

"We all make mistakes, we all make mistakes. This is someone that we cannot bring back by her losing her job, but at the same time you have to pay for your consequences, unfortunately, it's this way,” Rodriguez said.

Waterbury's chief said the call taker still has rights, and can appeal and grieve the termination.

Hear the 911 call here.

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