Metro dispatcher suspended after officers not warned suspect had gun

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Metro-Nashville dispatcher was suspended after failing to tell arriving officers that a felon in an East Nashville motel room may be armed with a gun.

The situation happened on Dec. 13 when the convicted felon, who was on parole, opened fire with his sawed-off shotgun, hitting Officer Terrance McBride in the left shoulder.

McBride is now on medical leave while he heals from the blast.

And now the dispatcher who sent him to that motel room is suspended for 10 days without pay.

“The officers who responded to the call did not have all the pertinent info they really should have had,” said Michele Donegan, Director of Nashville’s Emergency Communications Center.

Michele Donegan, Director of Nashville’s Emergency Communications Center (Photo: WKRN)
Michele Donegan, Director of Nashville’s Emergency Communications Center (Photo: WKRN)

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The dispatcher has been identified as Daniel Southall. He’s worked at the emergency communications center for two and a half years.

Southall is accused of being told by a tipster that Paul Hardesty was inside a room at the Cumberland Inn and might be armed but failing to give that information to Metro police.

“The more knowledge you have, the more prepared you can be for the call,” Director Donegan said. “Basically, we are the life line for the first responders on the street. They can only deal with the info we provide them.”

Donegan told News 2 Southall took full responsibility, saying “he heard the call; he listened to it in its entirety.”

Daniel Southall (Courtesy: Nashville’s Emergency Communications Center)
Daniel Southall (Courtesy: Nashville’s Emergency Communications Center)

According to his personnel file, he has been disciplined and counseled multiple times. On Sept. 23, 2015, he was suspended for one day from vacation for cell phone use.

His files also indicate he was suspended without pay on two different occasions for attendance issues—once on Dec. 31, 2015 and again on March 11, 2016.

He was also suspended one day this past may for his mishandling of another emergency call.

Director Donegan said, “He took a 10 46, an injury accident call, and he could have gotten additional info that would have helped the patient as well as the responders to the call, but what we want to do is learn from our mistakes and not repeat them and make sure the officers out there on the streets are safe under our watch.”

News 2 was told Southall took full responsibility for his actions and expressed regret for how he handled the call.

Metro police say they are letting the Office of Emergency Management comment on this incident, but Director Donegan says she called Chief Steve Anderson and they discussed what went wrong and what’s being done to correct the problem.