CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — We’ve been following the story of Amethyst Silva all month long. She’s the 11-year-old girl that was killed by a stray bullet on New year’s Eve.
As Corpus Christi Police Department (CCPD) continues their investigation, the Silva family has hired a lawyer to do their own investigating. They said more could have been done to help Amethyst.
“When someone goes through a terrible situation like this, time is of the essence. It’s essential to have emergency services,” Mauricio Celis, the lawyer the Silva family has hired.
A few days after the shooting, CCPD Chief Mike Markle sat down with our sister station, KZTV, to go over the police's timeline of what happened. This came after Amethyst's father, Robert Silva, gave us his version of events. Now, the Silva family is disputing what Markle said.
“As it stands right now, I don’t agree with the chief," Celis said during a media conference. "I don’t. And so, if he has the evidence to show that have him come forward and show us that nothing went wrong.”
They're challenging two things. First, the Silva family says they called 911 twice and got no answer. Markle said one of the calls was answered, but the dispatcher didn't hear anything.
“There’s a failure, like I’ve told my clients, that happened because of that, either because of software, hardware or personnel,” Celis said.
“We showed them when they came in that we answered," Markle said in his interview with KZTV on Jan. 5. "We called back and there was no answer and I understand why.”
Robert said when he got no response he tried driving his daughter to get help. They went to a nearby fire station calling out for help, but said no one was there. On their way to Christus Spohn on Saratoga Blvd., his car broke down. It took the help of a good Samaritan to get Amethyst to the hospital.
Markle said after dispatch did receive the call, they had officers at the scene of the shooting within two minutes. He believes the fire station was empty because they had gone out to respond to the initial 911 call. Markle said police were then sent to every hospital in the area because they didn't know where the Silva family was.
Celis said the other issue came when the Silva's car broke down. He said Robert was illegally detained.
“I don’t think it was right we were held from seeing our daughter,” Robert said.
Robert detailed that when an officer got to their car, he held Robert back. Robert asked if he was under arrest which the officer told him no. But Robert was detained in the back of the car.
“I said 'OK, can I get across the building please?'" Robert recalled asking the officer. "He says no. He gets on his phone and he proceeds to drive me around the block on a joy ride while my daughter is dying across the street.”
Celis said Robert told him police were laughing and joking while they held him up.
"If this is the way our law enforcement officers behave during this tragic situation, if this is how our systems, emergency services work, something (has) failed," said Celis.
"We just had an 11-year-old-girl brought into an ER, who’s been shot, mortally wounded. We’re going to speak to one of the parents. That’s not unreasonable to think,” Markle said in his Jan. 5 interview.
No lawsuits have been filed yet.
CCPD will not commenting following the announcement because of possible litigation.
Celis asks anyone who has also experienced what they think is a problem with the 911 system to come forward to talk to him.