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False 911 call sends police to empty house

Victims believe report was motivated because of a Black Lives Matter sign
This is Black Lives Matter sign has been vandalized and broken numerous times. The resident, Bekah Davis, was recently the victim of a false 911 call. (Morgan Mitchell/Durango Herald)

FARMINGTON – After a 911 call was ruled by the Farmington Police Department as unfounded, the victims of the false call believe the house was targeted because of the resident’s Black Lives Matter sign.

Imagine pulling up to your home with two police cars at your residence and one officer in your backyard. Does your heart drop? Do you get scared? For school teacher Bekah Davis, confusion set in as she pulled into her driveway June 23, quickly followed by anger. After Davis identified herself and got her dogs out of the car and into the house, the officer explained what was going on.

Farmington police received a 911 call from someone saying they saw a school bus wrapped in tin pull up to the residence with the Black Lives Matter sign on Apache Street and begin to unload things, including weapons, according to 911 audio and the 911 call report sheet.

“I had been at the dog park for the last hour and a half hanging out with the dogs, so no one was home,” Davis said.

While no one was home, there was a bus parked in the back driveway lot of the home. However, the bus referred to had been parked there for several months as Davis’ partner, Nicole Hall, who is an attorney has had it parked there while the pair work to convert it into a skoolie, which is a school bus converted into an RV. The pair wanted to raise the height of the bus, so they cut off the top and extended the roof with sheet metal.

The bus that Bekah Davis and her partner, Nicole Hall, are converting into an RV. Davis was recently the victim of a false 911 call. (Morgan Mitchell/Durango Herald)

“They said that they had a call about somebody unloading weapons from the bus,” Davis said. “The cops said we were unloading military weapons apparently, and to me that means that the cops are on edge, and at that point, there were two more cops who came around.”

Davis said that could have become a dangerous situation.

“One, for somebody, aka my partner who is Black, coming home and having three cops be like ‘we just got a call about all these guns …’ that could result in bias and then bad judgment and then scared, misinformed actions against someone,” she said. “So I wasn’t really scared for me, but I realized what it could have been for someone of color.”

Davis said the sign has brought trouble on more than one occasion and that she feels the call was “absolutely related” to the sign.

“It’s been broken three times, drawn on once, so I just instantly thought that that had something to do with it,” Davis said.

Davis said she decided to put up the sign a long time ago after she went for a walk with her dog and saw someone else put up a Confederate flag.

“I see your flag and I raise you a giant sign,” Davis said.

Davis has added other activist signs, but said she thinks her Black Lives Matter sign could be one of the reasons for the 911 call.

“When we did get the 911 report, then it was like, oh my god! He opened with that?!” Davis said. “He started with that. It seems pretty clear in my mind.”

On June 23, the San Juan County Communications Authority, the entity that handles 911 calls, received a call from Farmington resident named Phil Schafer who said he was calling to report something suspicious about the home with the Black Lives Matter sign.

Schafer said in the call that he saw a bus pull up and begin to unload weapons – specifically, a rifle with a banana clip on it.

The inside of the bus that Davis and her partner, Nicole Hall, are working on to convert into an RV. Davis was recently the victim of a false 911 call.

The operator had him confirm again that the bus had just pulled up to the house.

“If you see something strange, you’ve got to report it, so I am reporting it,” Schafer said.

In the 911 call, after the operator confirmed the location Schafer was referring to, the operator said she was aware of the home and said, “It’s sad that I know what house you’re talking about because I see it all the time.”

Schafer said in the 911 call, that he saw rifles and is “very familiar with weapons” because he “comes from a military family.”

“I saw one weapon come out of there and it looked like a military operation,” Schafer said. “They were throwing stuff out the back and people were catching it and bringing it in.”

Not only was the resident and her partner not home, but what Schafer was describing was not illegal, said Nicole Brown, spokeswoman for the Farmington Police Department. It is legal to own a gun.

Brown also said that the department encourages people to call if they see something suspicious but to also “be aware of reporting things accurately” because a false call can be a waste of resources.

“This was not accurately reported, so it was essentially a waste of two of our officers’ time to go check out something that absolutely wasn’t happening,” Brown said.

An officer was able to follow up with Schafer, Brown said, and told him that the bus was being remodeled and it might have been tools he had seen.

“What he said he saw, you know, obviously wasn’t what was happening, there may be something else going on with him,” Brown said.

Because this is not the first time Davis or her sign have been “harassed,” Brown said they spoke with officers.

“We made our officers aware that any other calls of that nature might be harassment toward them and to be kind of looking for that,” Brown said.

Since June 23, there have not been any more calls, Brown said.

Davis and Hall agree that they were not upset with the police response. Instead, they said they always hope the police would look into a suspicious call. But they are upset that the false call happened.

Because Schafer called to report suspicious activity and did not actually report a crime, there are no actions that can be taken against him for the false report, said Hall, who works as a public defender.

“With the racial climate that we have right now, I don’t think the phone call was made for any other reason than to see if a situation could be escalated,” Hall said. “Why else would you make a phone call to say that there are people with military op. weapons? What other reason is there behind that?”

Davis and Hall said they are thankful to the officer who recognized the bus as a skoolie and de-escalated the situation. They also said they were pleased with the police department’s response to keep an eye out for harassing calls.

Schafer did not return calls requesting comment.

mmitchell@durangoherald.com

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